It truly amazes me just how many ways 3D printer companies can take the same necessary parts and produce significantly different machines. A quick search on Google or Facebook for “3D printer under $300” reveals no less than thirty different manufacturers with at least eight different FDM-style setups. They include wood or plastic framing, aluminium extrusion, Delta vs CoreXY or Cartesian. I’m not even including other types like SLA or DLP. Today’s focus is on a Creality competitor, JGMaker (also known as JGAurora). Their latest offering into the entry-level price point is the JGMaker Magic 3D printer.
My first 3D printer was an Anet A8 a complete DIY kit. It required me to fully assemble the frame and components over about eight hours before I could even begin printing. The IUSE Impresora, on the other hand, is an example of one that comes fully assembled and ready to print out of the box. The JGMaker Magic is somewhere in between. Let’s take a closer look at this printer and see what, if anything, makes it stand out in what is continuing to become an ever-increasingly crowded space.
I ordered the JG Maker Magic through Gudis INC, on Amazon, who, at the time of writing this article, is offering a 20% discount for Prime Days. At under $200 total cost, I thought I was getting a fantastic deal for all the features this printer is boasting. The box was delivered quickly. The components inside were packaged exceptionally well. The instructions were relatively easy to follow. Nothing had been damaged during shipping (all things I could not say were true on my A8 through Gearbest).
I was printing the supplied example file in about two hours after opening the box and assembling everything; which included pausing to catalogue my progress and take pictures! As I put the printer through several tests, a few weaknesses began to show their heads. On the whole, I felt the good outweighed the bad. Let’s breakdown the details.
JGMaker Magic – The Pros :
- Aluminum Extrusion framing
- Larger than advertised build surface
- Heated bed
- Filament run-out detection
- Resume printing after power failure
- SD card protection
Firstly, I love the sturdy, rigid design of the frame for this printer. I had to “upgrade” my A8 to this type of framing, so it’s nice to get it straight out of the box. I can’t speak for other owners, but my heated bed measures out at 235mm by 235mm (as evidenced by my new print surface being too small in the following picture). The heated bed often reaches target temperature (usually 60C for me) before the extruder does (typically 200-215C for PLA) in about half the time of my A8.
The Finer Details
I haven’t tested the filament run-out detection yet, but the location and design of the sensor on the JGMaker Magic has my trust. Keep in mind. It is only designed to detect when there is no more filament in the sensor. It will not detect a jam or the lack of movement of the filament.
The Magic also features the ability to resume a print in the event of a power failure, something becoming more and more common on all 3D printers. SD card protection is similar. If the card is accidentally removed during the print, it will pause and give you the option to resume the print once the card is reinserted. This is something that provides the magic with an edge on its competition.
Something else of note on the positive side is that I have not experienced any “Z-banding”. This is common in other printers that rely on a lead screw connected to the Z-axis motor by way of a flexible coupler, like the JGMaker Magic. My belief is based on quality control: straight extrusions for the framing and proper adjustment of the eccentric nuts in testing and assembly.
JGMaker Magic – The Cons:
- Still a partial DIY kit
- Removable print surface attachment to the bed
- Cooling fan duct design
- Design of the extruder assembly
There are bound to be downsides when your primary concern is cost over quality, don’t you agree? The fact that there are several assembly steps can be off-putting for someone who is brand new to the world of 3D printing. If you miss a small, but the key difference – like which side of the X-axis framing the extruder assembly belongs on (front vs back) – you’ll find yourself severely limiting your print area. Or wondering why the printer won’t home properly. Ultimately, you’ll end up spending more time dismantling and properly reassembling the printer (see proper alignment below).
More Finer Details
Prior to my purchase, I had read that the greatest faux pa in the Magic’s design was the way in which JGMaker chose to attach the “removable print surface” to the heated bed, using four binder clips. In the original design, these clips dug into the heating elements creating a potential fire hazard.
This design was improved upon by leaving a gap between the heating element and the edge of the print surface (possibly explaining the increased, but unadvertised overall surface area). I chose to go one step further to eliminate the need for the use of binder clips altogether by replacing the supplied flexible “buildtak”-like surface with an Eryone spring-steel PEI coated sheet that installed with an adhesive-based magnetic sheet. Another potential alternative for the supplied removable sheet is the FilaPrint Surface
What Bothered Me Most
What has drained my exuberance I felt in the first few days of ownership of the JGMaker Magic is the design of both the extruder assembly and the fan duct that lies within. In the Magic’s case, the X-axis endstop, it’s control board, and the heatbreak fan is all secured to the shroud. The wiring that goes between these items and the extruder are secured to the X-axis gantry. This makes replacing the nozzle or adjusting the throat more difficult than they should be. It also limits the design capabilities of a replacement cooling fan duct without completely redesigning the entire extruder assembly.
The JGMaker Magic is one of the best price-to-features 3D printers on the market today under $200. As seen above, prints come out very clean. The sample file is on the left. My own design of a child safety drawer catch is on the right. If you are willing to invest up to 50% more, there are many other choices. Some have better design features or larger build areas. In a few cases, some have much easier unboxing-to-printing setups. However, if this printer were available when I bought my A8, I’d certainly have two Magic printers sitting on my maker-space desk. With that in mind, I need to get started on designing a replacement for that extruder assembly!
Check out our article on the cheap 3D printer under $350