Desperately seeking ideas re: large build-area, cheapish 2nd 3D printer

It's come to my attention that my excellent Flashforge is not cutting it in the legs department. The build area is just too small for legs and other larger projects I'm contemplating. 

I don't want to spend mega-bucks on a second printer at this stage.  

Can anyone please suggest/warn about any 3D printers they've used with large build areas? I would like a fairly reliable one with a build area around 280mm/300mm cubed or larger. Preferably with a heated build plate. One extruder is okay.

A kit one would be okay, provided it arrives with all the parts.

P.S. I won't hold you responsible for future print failures.

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Ray.Edgley's picture


Have you thought of building your own design?

Start with a RAMPs controller, parts are readily available from Ebay.

You can make it as big as you need that way.


Mats's picture


I think CR-10 is one of the best low cost large printers today.

You can get it in sizes from 300*300*400 up to 500*500*500.

Much easier and faster than to source and build one yourself. 

Humanoid's picture

Re: the Creality.

That one looks interesting, Mats.  It looks like I would be paying a minimum of 800 Aussie dollars for that one, even on ebay from Hong Kong.  That's still pretty cheap for such a large build volume. The youtube reviews seem pretty favourable. Do you have one of these or know if any MRL people have one?  

Are you familiar with that software which was mentioned?  Do you think it would it be difficult to source and set up the software? 

Going from the video I would have to enclose it somehow to print ABS. 

Worth looking into. 

Mats's picture


The software that is used is Repetier / Cura ( Slicing software ). That's the software that I use for both my 3D printers. It looks like they use a modified version of Marlin ( for the hardware ).

It's a software combination that I have used for more than 2 years. 

The printer comes with an SD card with the software, or you can download the latest version from

I setup both Marlin and Repetier when I built my own 3D printer. I found very good guides, so that was never an issue.





Humanoid's picture

I took the plunge

Mats, I took your advice and just ordered the 500x500x500 CR-10 from ebay for $1,143 AUD (about 763 Euros or $906 USD).  I'm crossing my fingers it's not a dodgy knock-off and that the bed is heated.  

I'll build some kind of simple cube to cover it for printing ABS. With that size I won't ever be able to complain about build area. I could even print the cube parts in the printer, I suppose. 

Now to wait 3 weeks to a month for it to arrive. 

Thanks for your prompt advice, guys. 

Humanoid's picture

I wouldn't know how to build

Thanks for that suggestion, Ray. I wouldn't know how to build one from scratch. I've got too many other projects going at the moment to research how to go about it.  Good suggestion, though. Maybe one day in the future.  

I think I'd rather get a pre-built one or a very straight-forward kit at this stage. 

Humanoid's picture

Update on the CR-10 (500*500*500 size)

I thought I'd provide an update and a bit of a review on the 3D printer formerly known as the 'Creality CR-10' but now known as 'The Monster that ate my work-room'. 

There was an initial no worky involving the ebay seller having to send me a new power-supply which I had to replace.  It's now fully worky and is producing very nice quality PLA prints.  As an act of loyalty, it was christened by first printing the myrobotlab keychain. Thanks, Alessandruino!  It turned out perfectly. 

In my haste to obtain the largest build volume known to man I failed to consider that, in order to print ABS, I would have to find a way to enclose this beast.  This is particularly an issue with this size as the glass bed moves a LONG way back and forward if you are making a very large print. I'd be looking at about 1040mm long for clearance (sheesh!).  I'm tempted to print some large square plates and slot them into some aluminium extrusion with printed corner brackets as a cheap and lightweight alternative to making a perspex enclosure.

It arrived with a glass bed which was nice as I prefer printing on glass. However, using the edge of a long ruler, I noticed the centre of the glass was concave by at least a millimetre. This is a problem given that a lot of printing is done in the middle but when the extruder on this model moves to the 'home' position it moves to the front left corner. This could cause a glass damage risk if it was levelled in the centre area which you would have to do. I found the other side of the glass was almost perfectly level so I just had to turn it over.  Happy days.  Youtube reviews seem to suggest this is a common issue. 

It has four screws for levelling which makes it pretty easy.  I've never been able to get my head around why so many printers have three when all the squares and rectangles I've come across have four corners.

The only other criticism I have is that some of the cables are too short, severely limiting where you can place the control unit. I've heard this complaint even in relation to the smaller models.

It does take a while to heat up and the bed heats up completely before it starts heating the extruder. Weird.  

The thing is practically silent. I was surprised at how much quieter it is than the Flashforge Creator Pro, even with it's door closed. 

I'm using Cura, which I down-loaded from the web-site, as the version provided with the SD was ancient.  

I recommend leaving the broken-English instructions, provided on the SD, to the angels and relying on youtube instead.

I'll update this review when I've tried it out with other filaments but, all-in-all, I'm a happy camper. Thanks, Mats, for the suggestion. 

Mats's picture


I'm so happy to hear that you got it worky and that the PSU problem got sorted out.

I think the printer is heating up the printbed first to avoid melted plastic to flow from the nozzle before it prints. 

The reasons that many printers use only three leveling screws is that you don't need more. With four screws you may bend the printbed, and that can be really bad if you have a printbed made of glass. It might transform into 1000's of pieces if foreced to bend.

If you have a chair with 3 legs, it will be stable even if you put it on a bumpy surface. But with four legs it will not be stable unless all four legs are on the ground.


Humanoid's picture

CR-10 worky again

The CR-10 stopped working again but has been fixed. It appears that whoever built the control box wasn't fussy about tightening the screws on the wire connections to the driver board. Something to watch out for if buying one. The PSU appears not to have been the original problem.  It's now been fully time-tested with a mammouth print for one foot at 'fine' setting on 20% fill. Note the print time. Believe it or not.



Mats's picture

Nice footprint


There are several parameters that can be changed to decrease print time.

1. Nozzle size. Wider nozzle makes wider layers so less time to print bottom and top layers.

2. Layer height. With a wider nozzle you can increase the layer height. Fewer layers = faster print. When I started to print I used .1 mm layer height, but now I use .2mm. So almost half the print time.

3. Print speed. The printer you have should work fine with 50mm/s. Faster speeds may sometimes decrease print times. It depends on the size of the object. For large objects, high print speeds are good, but you also need to consider acceleration parameters to avoid "ringing".

4. Infill. Many times the parts can be changed to reduce the need for infill. Most of the forces are taken by the shell, so increasing the number of perimeters or print width ( print width = nozzle size * perimeters ) can make the part stronger, than adding more infill. Same with bottom and top layers. More layers add strength, without the need to increase infill.


Humanoid's picture

Thanks, Mats - also filled leg prints

Thanks for all those suggestions. 

I could have modified the parameters but didn't think it would take that long at 20% fill even with thin layers.  I have heard that the CR-10 is not a quick printer.  Maybe that also had something to do with it.  In any case the robot will have a really nice right foot. LOL. 

Also as a separate issue:

A couple of us are having issues with slicing and printing some of the larger bartcam leg files (both the original full size as well as the cut up versions).  Some of the hollow stls in the legs appear to be slicing properly in Cura and Flash-print (gcode and x3g files) but then are printing with solid fill on the whole inside (not the walls, the whole inside). I have tried with various print quality settings but it seems the files are being corrupted.  I have rotated the sliced print and it appears hollow, as it should be but then prints differently.

This happened with my CR-10 and to someone else with the Flash-forge.

Can anyone shed some light on what's happening or tell us which slicing software and printer you're using where this has NOT happened and where your leg prints have been successful?


Mats's picture

Non manifold objects

Many of the files are "non manifold" and that can cause a problem for the slicer. 

I searched thru the comments on Thingiverse.

Bartods is using Simplified. 

Other people have used netfabb to cleanup the files before printing.


Humanoid's picture

Leg and Foot prints

Thanks for telling me those Thingiverse comments were there and for your handy hints.

Simplifi3d is really expensive, especially compared to what I usually pay for slicing software (i.e. nothing).  If all else fails I may try uploading those leg files into OpenScad and remove fill that way but that would be time-consuming. 

Re: the foot. For curved surfaces I like to use fairly thin layers and thicker walls. I find chunky layers results in less smooth curved surfaces particularly in relation to upper surfaces. I'm a bit fussy about smooth prints. ;^). I'm really happy with the right foot print and the glass plate is intact - phew!. 

For the other foot I will drop the fill and support levels a bit.  There was a LOT of support to dig out but this model does require support in some places. I definitely didn't want to go through all that then find that the top foot surface was saggy and lumpy due inadequate support.  If you raise the temp for better strength and layer-adhesion then you risk more sagging even with thicker walls.  It's a trade-off, isn't it?  The walls of the foot are quite thin so I don't recommend low percentage fill. 


Bart's new V2 foot, accommodating an additional sensor spot, has now been printed on the CR-10. Fill dropped to 15% and walls thickened a bit.  Print still took 38.5 hours. Quality is lower but still not bad. I prefer the other foot for wall strength.  This model has more volume than any of the parts in the rest of the inmoov so the time factor is to be expected.  

I have down-loaded Netfabb. It's not very intuitive and there is no available Mac version since the company was incorporated into Autodesk.  If anyone knows where I can get a virus-free or stand-alone Mac version of Netfabb I will be most grateful. In the mean-time I will mess around with the Windows version and see if I can get a reasonable leg print without Simplify3D.  I'll keep everyone posted on the progress. 

Incidentally, Flashprint wouldn't slice the foot at all, even though it fit in the Flashforge build area. It just chucked errors.  3D printing is an art, not a science.


Mats's picture

Non-manifold parts

I started to cleanup some of the parts that show up as non-manifold. 


I use the tools in Blender, but it takes time to do, and sometimes it looks OK in Blender, but not in the slicer.

Humanoid's picture

Inmoov Damian leg challenge

Hi Mats (and Kwatters),

I have managed to repair Gori_nogi in Netfabb & have printed it on the CR-10 - without 96 layers of solid filament at the bottom this time.  It was pretty easy using the basic repair function.  Bizarrely there is now no Netfabb version for Mac so I had to do it in Windows (yuck). I exported the repaired stls, as stls, then sliced them in Cura.  I didn't check to see if there is any other method which works.  To print the left upper leg I reversed the repaired file in Cura then re-sliced.  A slicing error re-appeared resulting in a failed print (not the same as the original fault). 

I have successfully sliced zawiasstopy and zawiassilnikawkretarky by just repairing them in the Flashforge. Some of the parts can be sliced with Flashprint and others cannot.