The Dremel 3D printer branded the Idea Builder is simple to set up and simple to use. It is the closest we’ve seen to an out-of-the-box plug and play experience. It works well for its intended users – casual hobbyists and educators. However, it is limited in terms of print size, materials, and the ability to customize the device, making it a poor choice for those with more advanced needs.
- Best for: Casual Hobbyists and Educators
- Might be good for: Pragmatists who don’t require a lot of flexibility
- Not appropriate for: Enthusiasts, Semi-Professionals
When the Dremel 3D printer branded the Idea Builder was introduced in late 2014, it was the first entry into the 3D printer marketing by a well-known manufacturer. Already trusted in the hobbyist and maker communities for their rotary power tools, 3D printing was a natural extension for the Dremel brand.
Built in partnership with Chinese 3D printer maker FlashForge, the Dremel 3D printer is everything you would expect from a company like Dremel. It is well packaged, well built, intuitive, and works out of the box without a lot of hassle.
The time from unboxing to printing with the Idea Builder is among the fastest we’ve seen. Simply take the printer out of the box, remove some Styrofoam packing inserts and plug it in. Then load the filament, adhere the built tape to the build platform and level the platform (more on those steps in a moment) and you’re ready to go. For most users the process should take no more than thirty minutes.
- Very easy to set up and use
- Intuitive full color touchscreen interface
- Safety features for younger users
- Only supports proprietary Dremel PLA filament
- Lack of heated print bed
- Relatively small build envelope
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Dremel 3D Printer Features
The Dremel 3D printer is fully enclosed, which serves two purposes. First, this helps the device maintain a stable temperature during builds, increasing the print quality. Second, it serves as a safety feature, especially important in a school or family environment with young children.
One of the best features of the Idea Builder is the user interface on the device. It is a full color touchscreen with an intuitive menu structure and interface. During a build it displays information about the progress and time remaining.
The build envelope, or maximum size object that can be printed by the device, is on the smaller side at 9” x 5.9” x 5.5”. While this should be fine for casual hobbyists and school users, it is important to be aware especially of the 5.5 inch height limitation.
Let’s talk about filament. The good news is that loading the filament is easy, especially with help from the aforementioned touchscreen interface. The bad news is that the device only supports PLA, and users are limited to Dremel’s proprietary filament. It is possible with some effort to modify the device to accept generic PLA brands, but this voids the warranty. For reference, the current price per kilogram of Dremel filament is a little over twice the price of Hatchbox PLA.
The acrylic print bed is also a good news/bad news scenario. Compared to other 3D printers, it is quite easy to level. The device interface guides the user through the process, which is performed with three easily accessible thumbscrews. It can also be easily removed, making it easier to extract your finished part. The bad news is that the print bed is not heated, which can result in reduced print quality due to warping.
The Idea Builder comes with Dremel’s own 3D software for preparing models for printing. It is easy to use and provides basic functionality such as positioning, rotating and scaling models. For more advanced functionality like adding supports, users will need to download another package such as Autodesk MeshMixer.See Product Specs
Print Quality, Reliability and Support
The print quality that can be achieved with the Dremel 3D printer is good, but not outstanding. The minimum layer height of 0.1 mm that corresponds to the “high resolution” setting is par for the course for consumer 3D printers. The lack of a heated print bed as mentioned previously does detract some from the quality, but for the casual hobbyist or educator this shouldn’t matter much.
While we didn’t encounter any problems with the Dremel 3D printer, some users have reported a tendency for the print head to clog, and others have noted challenges in removing filament. However, most users report that the device is reliable and performs well over time.
One of the best things Dremel brings to the table is the quality of their US-based support. Users have reported that the support team is very responsive and knowledgeable. Dremel products, including filament, are distributed through Home Depot, which may be more convenient for some users as opposed to waiting for items to be shipped.
Dremel hosts an online community for sharing of designs and community support. While the design community has a decent number of interesting models, the community discussion section seems to be inactive. Models can also be used from other communities such as Thingiverse and Pinshape.
Dremel is known for easy-to-use and useful hobbyist tools. The Idea Builder, their first foray into the 3D printer market, fits well with the Dremel brand. It is among the easiest 3D printers to set up and use, and delivers an outstanding experience for the casual hobbyist or for educators looking to incorporate basic 3D printing skills into their curriculum. It is lacking some features that the more advanced enthusiast would desire, but if you are seeking a no hassle entrée into 3D printing then the Dremel Idea Builder should be on your short list.
An out-of-the-box, intuitive 3D printing experience for the casual hobbyist
- Quick and easy set-up with Quick Level guided 2-point semi-auto leveling, for fast and accurate calibration
- Wi-Fi enabled for remote printing through new Dremel 3D app or through spark software
- New Dremel build software and innovative extruder with active filament monitoring protects against failed builds and ensures successful prints