Let’s discuss the pros and cons of the new Silhouette Alta 3D Printer!
Let me preface this by saying that the Silhouette America products to me are the best on the market for small business and crafters! I have been working with the Silhouette Cameo for the last 6 years. When I first started with their products the software was basic even with the upgrades they have offered. However, over the last 6 years things have done nothing but vastly improve and have grown with the demand of the users. The Silhouette team is very responsive and open to the needs of the community and I expect nothing less with the Silhouette Alta. With that said lets talk about what the Silhouette Alta has to offer us today.
- #1 reason? Well 3D printing is fun! How cool is it to make custom products!!
- Basic software for ease of use for beginners
- Compact design to not take up a large footprint in your craft room
- Fully enclosed printer with lock to protect tiny fingers from getting hurt
- Easy load and unload of the filament
- Presets for temps, speeds, infill, and more to take the guess work out of learning to print
- Ability to design in Silhouette Studio to use in the S3D software
- Can use most fonts but just like any other media not all fonts will work with the best results
- Uses the standard 3D printing file format .stl and .obj that are easily found on 3D printing support websites
- Also can open .s3d , .studio , .studio3 , .ply , and .3mf
- Uses easily found PLA material that is recyclable that comes in many different colors, and types from wood filled, glow in the dark, marble, rainbow and so much more
- Create a range of products for parties, jewelry, replacement parts for things around your house anything you can imagine
- Tons of free files available on the internet for your personal (not commercial) use
- Free software available on the internet to design for your needs if the S3D software isn’t enough
- This machine is a great introduction into 3D printing it is a small investment with known software to put you on the right foot, you may never out grow it but if you do it will give you the knowledge to be able to move forward in an industry that is in it’s infancy for home use.
Now let’s talk about the cons of the machine. Keeping in mind everything has a plus and a minus so just remember which parts appeal to you the most.
- Only prints in PLA material
- No heated bed to be able to use different filaments
- Small print field (great for beginners but is limiting)
- Must be plugged into a computer during all times of print (It would be nice to have a usb or microusb port to make it easier)
- Can not change out a less than $2.00 nozzle when it wears out. Instead you have to change out the entire head at $60 each. (Filament is abrasive some more than others. This wears out the size of the hole the filament comes out of the nozzle and is a common replacement part on other printers)
- Expensive designs in the Silhouette store and very little to chose from
- Very little products to use with 3D printing is something you can run out and purchase. Most everything will have to be ordered online.
- Advertising and encouraging cookie cutters to be made when using a brass nozzle that can leach lead into the product
- No fan to cool the print for over hanging material. (Leaving the door open helps but a fan would have been nice in my opinion)
- For the designs you can have supports to help hold up areas of the print that would just be floating in the air. However, the software only allows supports to be placed if they will go straight to the bed and not attach to another part of the printed product. So more support control is needed.
- Software does not accurately calculate print times. One print was expected to be 2 1/2 hours instead it was 26 1/2 hours because anything over 24 hours the software can’t currently calculate.
- Filament loop guide attached to the machine is wearing thin and will wear out soon. Because of it being molded into the machine it isn’t replaceable.
- Having to keep up with and use a filament tube every time you load filament.
- The filament feeder guide broke within 5-6 prints. Now Silhouette was quick to respond with offering to replace the entire machine. Instead we worked out a solution for me to print a replacement part. They quickly created the file for me to use.
- The worst part of 3D printing is you will want to print everything!!!! When you need a replacement part for something you will look to see if you can build it instead of buying it. To me this is the very biggest con of owning a 3D printer lol
So now with all that said is buying a Silhouette Alta something I would recommend? If you have a larger printer you may be unhappy with the print size but it is a great printer for your smaller products while you are using your larger printer for things that take much longer to produce. This would be a great printer to add to any printer farm you have or your first printer to get it started! I look forward to working with Silhouette to watch the software grow like the Silhouette Studio has done over the years. 3D printing is still relatively new to the home industry so you must have an open mind in learning the new products. No 3D printer is going to be plug and play. Meaning every filament may require different tweaks to get a good print, calibration will have to be done regularly, and trouble shooting is not going to be one of those “Hey guys my prints are failing what do I do?” type of situations. You will need to be willing to work with the product, do test prints with each filament you buy, even same brands but different colors will act differently. So test, test and test, grab a notebook and document print settings that have worked for you by brand and colors. Because your roll of filament and mine of the same brand and color may act differently. But most importantly have patience and enjoy creating your products!
With all of that said and I am loving my printer but I do have some very serious concerns with the machine and customer service. Customer service reps are slow to get back with you when things are broken that shouldn’t break under the normal use of the product. Inability to trouble shoot issues. They basically seem to have no knowledge of the machine, software, product, warranty, or how they can address the issues of broken products. Filament feeder both breaking and wearing because of the type of plastic they used to make the product. Wearing thin in just a few short months. Platform holder has broken on some machines. All parts that are meant to be used are breaking entirely to fast. Where warranties are covering the damaged products it is the expense of the customer to have to pay to mail back what I consider a defective product at a cost some are reporting up to $60 if not more. Where yes most of the time you would be responsible for returning an item during a warranty period this seems extreme since it seems to be defective products that are beyond the control of the user. So be prepared for the expense of shipping back a product that broke because of poorly created parts. OR know you will probably void your warranty but print your own replacement parts. (like many other 3D printers do to better their products)