Dremel Digilab 3D40 Review
Dremel, an American brand of power tools, officially entered the 3D printing industry in 2014 with the launch of the Dremel Digilab 3D20. Although limited in features, the 3D20 turned out to be a success, earning praise for its simple and easy-to-use setup that made it a recommended starter machine for beginners.
In 2016, Dremel doubled down on its mission to create 3D printers designed for beginners and educators, releasing the Dremel Digilab 3D40. The 3D40 is a more capable machine and comes with more convenient features.
Dremel offers a couple of options for the 3D40: one is the standard package while the other is even more geared toward educators. Both contain the exact same 3D printer. The only difference is that the education-based option, which is called the 3D40-EDU, includes additional items such as extra rolls of filaments and a set of lesson plans. The standard sells for around $1,300 while the 3D40-EDU sells for around $1,600. Both products come with a 1-year warranty.
The 3D40 is a fully enclosed 3D printer. It has a sleek and rigid frame with the familiar silver-and-blue Dremel colors and comes with a couple of see-through panels, one at the front and one at the top. It has a vent at the back and a pair of indentations at the bottom of each side that serves as handles for easy transport.
Out front, the 3D40 has a 4.5-inch touchscreen interface with a built-in storage and a USB-A port, both of which are below the front opening. The full-color touchscreen is responsive and has clear icons, making it easy to use. On the right side, the 3D40 has a LAN port and a USB-B port, along with the power switch. The internal spool holder is accessed from the left side of the machine, which has a covered circular hole.
Inside, the 3D40 has a single extruder with a 0.4-millimeter nozzle. The extruder is well-covered, making it more protected against curious hands. The removable print bed is made of glass and easily snaps out of the build platform. Since the print bed is non-heated, you can’t print with high-temperature and more advanced materials such as ABS and TPU. When it comes to the print area, the 3D40 is above-average for an enclosed 3D printer. It’s a bit larger than the 3D20 and the FlashForge Creator Pro.
Unlike the Dremel Digilab 3D45, which is designed for more advanced users, the 3D40 lacks an onboard camera, which means you can’t watch the print progress from the next room. But at least it has an internal light that makes it easy to check on the print progress at night.
Overall, the 3D40 has a clean, professional, and straightforward design. The core parts are well-secured inside the frame and the cables are not all over the place. In regard to aesthetics, the 3D40 has a more unique look compared to the 3D20, which is similar to the FlashForge Dreamer in appearance. Our only issue with the design is the internal spool holder, which is designed specifically for Dremel spools. Let’s go back on that issue down in the Performance section.
A 3D printer marketed toward beginners and educators must be easy to use, with a good amount of features that can make things easier for users. Although not on the same level as the Original Prusa i3 MK3 when it comes to convenient features, the 3D40 delivers on that front.
Since many 3D printers come with a manual bed leveling system, beginners often run into a roadblock when calibrating a print bed for the first time. The 3D40 is in a different boat. It has an assisted manual or semi-automatic leveling system, the same system found in the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 and 3DWOX 1.
When prompted on the touchscreen, the 3D40 automatically scans the print bed. If the print bed is out of alignment, the system will send instructions on the touchscreen that tell you exactly how to adjust the thumbscrews. No need to use a sheet of paper for the entire task. Just initiate the leveling system on the touchscreen and wait for the instructions. With that kind of setup, the initial print bed calibration becomes a walk in the park.
The 3D40 has a filament sensor. When out of filament, it automatically pauses and sends a notification, prompting you to swap in a brand-new filament. Once loaded with a fresh roll of filament, the machine resumes the print from where it left off. It’s a useful feature for large-scale, high-resolution prints that can take over 20 hours to complete.
In case you’re the cautious type, you can also manually pause the print before going to bed and then resume it first thing in the morning when you’re around to monitor your machine. The manual pause-resume feature is also useful when printing in two colors. Just pause the machine while in mid-print, load a different filament, and resume the print. The process can be a hassle sometimes, but that’s the best option you got since the 3D40 is not available in a dual extruder setup.
When it comes to connectivity, the 3D40 shines. It offers multiple ways for you to start prints. It can start prints via Wi-Fi or LAN and USB. With the USB connection, you have the option to print while connected to a computer via the USB-B port or print while offline via the USB-A connection. And as mentioned, the 3D40 has a built-in storage, which means you can also print directly from the machine itself, provided the storage is loaded with files.
With the Wi-Fi option and the Dremel Print Cloud web-based service, you can start and stop prints remotely, as well as monitor the print progress, filament status, and machine temperature. In fact, Dremel encourages the use of the Print Cloud service for starting prints. It’s a convenient option for those who don’t do a lot of editing and just want to print objects.
Dremel says the 3D40 and its other 3D printers are optimized for Dremel filaments, which caused a lot of people to assume that third-party filaments are off the menu. That’s not entirely the case. Although the internal spool holder is designed for Dremel spools, you can print with third-party filaments on the 3D40. As a trade-off, you lose your warranty. In short, the 3D40 has an open material system, but with some caveats.
In regard to overall features, the 3D40 is solid. It comes with convenient features and is a lot more flexible than advertised. Its most glaring issue is that it lacks a heated print bed, which would have made it possible to print with more advanced materials. For K12 educators, that limit is not significant. But for college or university educators who want to teach engineering students about different material properties, the 3D45, which has a heated print bed, is the more suitable machine.
The 3D45 has a simple and hassle-free initial setup. It’s fully assembled out of the box, so no assembly is required. Included in the standard 3D40 package are the following items: a quick start guide, a manual, a black build tape, a couple of blue build tapes, a scraper, a filament unclogger, a USB cable, a USB flash drive, a power cable, and a roll of filament.
The 3D40-EDU, on the other hand, comes with all of those items, along with three extra rolls of filaments, an extra build plate, a bunch of extra build tapes, a set of 3D printing lesson plans, and a 4-hour professional development course. For educators, the extra items included with the 3D40-EDU is definitely worth the $300 difference in price.
Setting up the 3D40 is straightforward. The manual is extremely detailed and walks you through the entire initial setup, from powering the machine right down to starting your first print. It’s got everything you need to know about your machine, including solutions to some of the most common problems you may encounter in the beginning. The initial setup can be broken down into four easy steps.
First, remove the build plate, apply the build tape, and put it back into the build platform. Second, power up the machine and set up a network connection. The 3D40 automatically searches for available networks. Third, level the build platform. With the assisted bed leveling system, you should be able to level the bed in less than 10 minutes. And fourth, load the filament. Loading the filament is a manual process in which you have to insert the end of the filament into the filament guide tube, which connects to the extruder.
That’s it. All of those steps can be done in about 30 minutes to one hour. After you’re done preparing the machine, the next action is to prepare the 3D models on the software and then start printing. The 3D40 ships with the Cura-based Dremel Digilab 3D Slicer, compatible with both Windows and Mac. Since the 3D40 includes both a sample filament and a few test models, you can start printing right away.
The 3D40 is not only easy to use, it also delivers when it comes to print quality and overall performance. It can produce clean and detailed 3D models that don’t need a lot of finishing touches. It can produce excellent results in both low resolution and high resolution and can handle different item sizes, from Pokemon replicas to phone cases to small plant vases.
The 3D40 is also capable of printing geometrically complex 3D models, provided the settings are correct. In addition, the 3D40 is very quiet, whether the panels are open or closed. You can still hear it humming in the background while it prints, but the noise level won’t distract you. That’s another reason the 3D40 makes for an excellent 3D printer for classroom use. Also, the build plate stays level for a long time and the nozzle is clog resistant, both of which make the 3D40 a low-maintenance machine.
But while the 3D40 performs well, its cost of operations bring it down, and we’re not just talking about the fact that Dremel filaments are more expensive than most third-party filaments. Even worse, Dremel offers a limited number of filament colors to choose from, at least compared to other popular brands. Moreover, you also need to keep a steady supply of Dremel build tapes.
The good news is that you can cut down on the costs by eschewing Dremel filaments and build tapes and relying completely on third-party materials. It’s pretty straightforward when it comes to using third-party build tapes. Things get a bit more complicated with third-party filaments, especially considering the 3D40 is optimized for Dremel filaments.
For third-party filaments, you will need to use a different spool holder because the built-in spool holder is meant for Dremel filaments. The best option is to go for a side-mounted spool holder like this 3D40 spool holder by Mark981 on Thingiverse. But keep in mind that the built-in spool holder will have to be constantly open in order to accommodate an external spool holder.
Before you use third-party filaments, consider the risks first. Some users have reported having issues when printing with non-Dremel filaments. And as previously mentioned, using other brands of filaments means you lose the machine warranty. These are the trade-offs you have to be willing to accept.
In regard to print preparation, the 3D40 is solid regardless of which method you use. The Print Cloud service offers a convenient way to start prints while the Dremel slicer includes a good amount of options for both beginners and intermediate users. The 3D40 also has little issues starting prints via both USB connections, so feel free to use whatever file transfer option suits your style.
|Resolution: 100 microns|
|Volume: 10 x 6 x 6.7 in|
|Filament: 1.75 mm|
|Weight: 43.6 lb|
|Connect: Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet|
|Semi-auto bed leveling system|
|Removable build plate|
|Low noise level|
|Multiple file transfer options|
|No heated print bed|
|Limited to PLA filaments|
|Spool holder designed for Dremel spools only|
If you’re an educator or a 3D printing beginner, the 3D40 will serve you well. It’s reliable, easy to use, comes with convenient features, and prints really well. Although the phone lines can be really busy sometimes, Dremel provides excellent customer support, which is especially important for beginners and non-tinkerers. Like all other 3D printers, the 3D40 has downsides – like the filament issue and the fact you’re limited to PLA – but the upsides it brings to the table are well worth the money. It’s a great 3D printer overall.