The Afinia H-Series 3D Printer Review
- Excellent print quality
- Brilliant customer service
- Fully assembled
- Small build area
- Complicated software
The Afinia H-Series H479 is a new 3D printer aimed at educators and designers. So if you’re a professor, an engineer, or a creative and you’ve been looking for a machine to suit your needs, listen up, because this may just be your new favorite 3D printer. It’s not perfect but it is a significant leap into the future from the first generation of top 3D printers.
The Afinia H-series is actually, more or less, a dressed down UP! Mini – but with a few modifications. It’s these modifications however, that make all the difference. Fantastically simple software and user manuals that you can actually read go a long way to making this one of the easiest 3D printers to use on the market.
The Afinia H-Series H479 has a pleasant but no frills appearance. The deep red, open-framed and folded steel housing feels simple and almost industrial. However, the exposed ribbon cable leaves it feeling a little unfinished. The extruder cover, fan mount, cable clips, and the mounting arm for the printing spools have all been made using 3D printing. While this is a great example of what these machines can do, these elements don’t exactly feel professionally manufactured. Even worse is the almost amateurish use of binder clips to attach the special FR-4 boards to the H479’s printing platform.
Weighing a mere 11 pounds the Afinia H-Series stands 13.8in x 9.6in x 10.2in (HWD). It has a build area of just over 5 cubic inches. While this is smaller than most of its competitors (the largest being the Type A Machines Series 1 with 10in x 9in x 9in HWD) it is larger than it’s brother machine the UP! Mini which only has 4.7 cubic inches.
Inside the box you’ll also find a 1.5 pound spool of ABS plastic filament and an accessories box complete with just about everything you’ll ever need. The list includes a giant pair of tweezers, a small socket wrench, three hex head wrenches, a pair of snipping pliers, sharpened scraper, X-Acto knife with an assortment of blades, a pair of work gloves, and a plastic tube. As well as power cables, power brick and the USB cord. As someone who hates buying a product only to find out I then have to go buy something else to make it work I have to give Afinia a lot of credit for this tool-kit.
Afinia provides a software disk with a single program that is all you’ll ever need. It runs on both Window and Mac machines. I ran the H479 on a desktop computer running Windows 7 and the software installed without a hitch. When I connected the USB, the computer automatically recognized and installed it as well.
The software for the Afinia H-Series H479 will actually take care of everything you need. The software has a great balance between customization and ease of use. Afinia’s software will run you though initializing the printer. Combined with the user manual this provides a step by step guide for everything from setting the extruder height to actually printing.
Because software is how you interact with a 3D printer – Afinia have put a lot of focus into making this component work. Overall, it’s better than the 3D Systems software however, while more intuitive it just doesn’t feel quite as powerful as MakerBot’s MakerWare.
Using the Afinia H-Series H479
The FR-4 boards that come with the Afinia H-Series 3D Printers create an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand they work amazingly well at providing model adhesion. They are the only solution that I’ve seen to the disastrous problem of models peeling off over the course of a long build. However, they require a lot of post build clean up. Printing material fills the perforation and you will need your entire accessories box to clean them up.
An alternative is to apply blue painters tape directly to the build platform, but this leads to the same adhesion issues that plague the MakerBot Replicator. Personally, I would rather give my prints some post-processing attention than waste time and materials with failed prints because of lack of adhesion. So personally, I am in favour of the FR-4 boards of the Afinia H-Series H479.
While the Afinia H-Series H479 is not quite as effortless as we wish the top 3D printers could be. It does provide a good balance between being easy to use and delivering quality prints. And although it does require more effort to clean the H479’s support material the end result is consistent successful builds.
Printing an object is as simple as opening a file and clicking print. Wait five minutes for the extruder to heat up, and you’re away. While the Afinia H-Series H479 can’t accept jobs directly via USB or flash card it does have internal memory, so once printing has begun you’re free to disconnect. While printing the Afinia H-series is relatively quiet when compared to a lot of the other top 3D printers I’ve tested.
The Bad One of my biggest frustrations was the Afinia software currently forces you to have support systems on any overhangs. While it’s usually relatively easy to remove these support systems – this can become a problem on more delicate or complex builds. However, Afinia says this will be addressed in an upcoming software update.
The Verdict While the initial investment of $1,499 for the Afinia H-Series H479 may be a concern for some buyers. Because it doesn’t require proprietary filament cartridges, over its lifetime, the H479 actually becomes the more economical choice. If you’re looking for a 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping machine in the $1000-$2000 range the Afinia H-Series H479 is one of the top 3D printers on the market.
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