Over the past five or six years I have been lucky to be able to experience a wide variety of different 3D printers, offering a wide variety of results, speeds and features with prices varying from just under $500 to over $5,000. So when I was given the chance to review the new Longer FDM LK5 PRO open source 3D printer I just couldn’t resist. Priced at under $350 I was very skeptical of the print quality and ease of use from such an affordable 3D printer. However after un-boxing and building the Longer FDM LK5 PRO and running it through a few test prints I was extremely surprised at the results such a budget 3D printer could produce. If you are currently in the market for an affordable 3D printer offering a substantial build volume and capable of fabricating a wide variety of different designs in a variety of different 3D printing filaments, I highly recommend you consider the FDM LK5 PRO. Whether you are just staring out in 3D printing or a seasoned maker looking for a large affordable print volume.
The Longer LK5 PRO is supplied as a semi-built kit, meaning it is already 90% constructed on arrival, although flat packed to save on transport costs, requiring only a few construction stages to fully assemble the printer ready for its first 3D print. If you have already built IKEA furniture, PCs or similar electronic devices you should be fine. A few allen bolts need to be tightened and a handful of cables need to be plugged into their correct ports, but apart from this nothing complicated is required or configured before you can start printing. One thing that could be improved a little are the instructions. Which could do with a little refining and extra clarity in a couple of places, perhaps with the use of wire frame diagrams for a better understanding of the exact orientation of the 3D printing arm and components. However after a little hand positioning and reference checks the 3D printer was complete and in just under 30 minutes.
Once the 3D printer had been unwrapped and the 3D print head attached to the upright z-axis and the triangular support structure tightened the finished machine reveals its rugged design. The triangular structure of the z-axis uprights makes for a considerably strong and robust 3D printing experience and the entire frame is constructed from strong yet lightweight aluminum extrusions. This strong triangular design enables the 3D printer to effectively reduce errors possibly caused by vibrations during the print process. Thanks to diagonal pull bars, that can be manually tightened and checked to keep the frame rigid. Longer provide all the tools necessary to complete construction including allen keys for all the various and size connecting bolts and even a few zipper ties are included to keep any connecting wires neatly out of view.
Assembly was surprisingly easy and I was able to 3D print a design straightaway without carrying out any lengthy configuration routines. I simply loaded the filament, carried out a print bed levelling adjustment and loaded a file from the provided microSD card. The Gcode file was instantly recognized by the 3D printer and it immediately started heating its print head to 200° C and the print bed to 60°. Although both of these can be altered if needed, to suit the 3D printing filament you are using. No software update was needed to be downloaded or firmware upgraded and I didn’t even need to connect the 3D printer to my PC to upload any files.
One of the standout features of the Longer FDM LK5 PRO open source 3D printer is its clear and bright 4.3 inch color touchscreen display. Which enables you to monitor your print while printing is in progress, listing data metrics such as percentage complete, time elapsed, temperature settings for bed and head, current print height and more. The easy to read user interface provides quick access to all the 3D printers settings and utilities such as loading and ejecting filament, adjusting the print bed. printing nozzle and more.
The printer comes supplied with a microSD card preloaded with a few design to get you started as quickly as possible, enabling you to quickly test the printer and it assembly before diving into more complex 3D prints. Longer even provides a small amount of 3D printing filament in the box allowing you to test your FDM LK5 PRO 3D printer by printing the provided “Hello World” boat design as pictured below, which takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. While the larger and more complex vase took around 11 hours to print.
Unlike many other low-cost 3D printers the Longer range offers an extra large print volume with the LK5 Pro capable of printing designs up to 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.75 inches in size or 300 x 300 x 400mm at print speeds of up to 180mm/s. The single extruder head is fed with filament through a high-temperature resistant Teflon tube, capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 280° C, minimizing the chance of your chosen filament becoming clogged or blocked the print head assembly and nozzle. Although the complete print head is also easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance if required.
During the print process the Longer LK5 PRO is surprisingly quiet compared to other 3D printers I have used, although the obligatory cooling fan noise is still apparent, as well as the movement of the print head in its X,Y and Z axis. As you start a print the 3D printer will test the position of the printing surface, making sure the printer head is the correct distance from the print surface. This can be calibrated manually using a sheet of paper and turning adjustment knobs underneath the print bed. The heated lattice glass printing surface features a microporous structure to provide excellent adhesion during the print process, thanks in combination to its ability to evenly transfer heat across the whole printing surface. Once cooled designs simple lift from the textured glass surface, allowing you to easily remove your designs by hand.
As explained before and thanks to its integrated operating system the 3D printer can be used as a stand-alone unit using the aforementioned microSD card reader and touchscreen controller you can easily upload designs without the need of a PC. The machine can be easily paused during the print process, allowing filament to be swapped out if needed to provide multi-material 3D printing options. The 3D printing filament reel is positioned at the back left of the machine and thanks to its minimalist design accepts a wide variety of different size spools, enabling you to meet different printing requirements depending on how large your final print might be.
The 3D printers power supply is situated at the rear underneath the print bed and is also easily accessible for maintenance if required at any time in the future. As with any 3D printer it is advisable to position the machine on a sturdy surface and perhaps even place it on a concrete paving slab to minimize vibrations during the print process for optimal results, as some other makers have recommended in the past.
I already mentioned I was particularly impressed with the clarity of the color touchscreen display and its responsiveness during menu navigation. All settings are easily accessible and can be quickly tweaked before or during your print run. When the printing process is underway a status is displayed on the touchscreen providing an easy to read overview of your print progress.
Being an open source design the Longer 3D printer features an open source motherboard controlled by a TMC2208 ultra-silent driver. Combined with open-source firmware, allowing you to tweak and customize your LK5 Pro printer if desired by using code or changes suggested by the Longer open source community.
Bulk purchasing options are also available from Longer allowing you to build a 3D print farm for your business or education establishment at a fraction of the cost when compared to other 3D printers currently on the market. Apple Pay is also available as a purchasing option directly on the Longer website which is currently running a special offer for its new Longer FDM LK5 PRO open source 3D printer.
The Longer FDM LK5 PRO open source 3D printer is currently available to purchase priced at $and offers amazing value for money, if you are looking to pick up your very first 3D printer or would like to establish a 3D printing farm with one or more 3D printers working simultaneously. Even at this extremely low price point Longer has created a versatile, precise 3D printer with a number of features unavailable in some 3D printers costing many times the price. Although a few simple steps need to be followed before you can print your first designs.
For more details, pricing and delivery jump over to the Longer site by following the links below.
Source : Longer
Disclosure: “This is a sponsored post. Geeky Gadgets has been compensated for this post. All opinions are that of the editor and were in no way influenced by the company.”