Wanhao Duplicator 5
New for 2014 is the Wanhao Duplicator 5, a 3D printer that is designed to take on the overpriced industrial-style printers currently available. With a large build volume, accurate resolution and a new software design that rivals high-dollar suites, Wanhao’s design is incredible for the price point.
Wanhao offers their Duplicator 5 as the newest, largest printer in the Duplicator line. It bridges the gap between big industrial printers and desktop printers by offering a 37.8 liter build envelope and advanced features. The envelope has a size of 12x8x23in, which is great for professional model builders and prototypers. The Rock XV Steel ExoFrame is a tough but stylish casing, built from powder coated steel. This frame design, coupled with a 16mm threaded Z-axis rod, allows for taller prints by making the machine sturdier and improving accuracy. The design also makes the printer weigh in at a massive 88lbs. The steel frame powder coating is currently available in a black and blue pairing, but looks great, despite lack of color choice. Prints are produced onto a Lexan bed, which is made for durability.
The Duplicator 5’s other improvements add speed to Wanhao’s famously accurate technology. Improvements all around make this printer very light on its feet. Sturdier movements are achieved by the improvements made to the Z-axis bar. Wanhao has added a Bowden-style extruder to the Duplicator 5, which makes it lighter. Lighter parts mean quicker movements. Linear ball bearings ensure smoothness and speed as well. The stepper motors used on the Duplicator 5 are a class-act. With 1/16th micro stepping motor control along 4 axes speed, as well as accuracy, is improved. Printing speeds up to 300mm/sec are achievable with the technology that Wanhao has put in to the Duplicator 5.
The Duplicator 5 offers only one extruder, but it is truly a professional tool. Marked as the Anti-Jam Queen Single Extruder, it can accurately print using ABS, PLA, and PVA filaments. With the help of a built-in cooling system, print images are resistant to warp, and extrusion layering is improved. The extruder will only accept 3mm filaments due to its extruder’s need for speed, but this filament will quickly be turned in to an image that is accurate up to 20 microns. Layer thickness is adjustable by the software, and can be selected from 0.02-0.4mm. Positioning precision is 2.5 microns on the Z-axis, and X- and Y-axes have 11 micron precision in positioning. Wanhao touts this accuracy as “5 times the resolution” of its other 3D printers.
Accuracy is further improved by the company’s new Wanhao Maker software. Wanhao considers its Maker software the most significant upgrade to the Duplicator product line. It is simpler to use by design, and made as an answer to more expensive third-party applications. Wanhao Maker is included for free with the Duplicator 5 and is available from Wanhao’s website. The company employs a research and development team that is burdened with the task of finding the best software and component upgrades for their products. This means continued development and customer service for your Duplicator 5. Paired with a one-year warranty, you and your Duplicator 5 are not without assistance.
Further, the Duplicator 5 uses onboard circuitry and connectivity to print beautiful, accurate images without being tethered to a computer. Although it is possible to connect your computer to the printer via USB, the growing trend in 3D printers at this level is SD card connection. Place your stored images on an SD card, slide the card inside the slot on the printer, and let Duplicator 5 go to work for you. Using the color LCD screen and push-rotate button, you can change parameters and search for files to print. The OS also makes it a snap to use the LCD to calibrate the unit. Calibration is achieved by tightening wing nuts under the print bed through direction of the OS, and is easily accomplished with no tools. Preheating and SD pairing are also accomplished through the LCD display.
The Duplicator 5 is packed and sent with a power supply cable, USB SD card reader, SD card, one roll of 3mm PLA filament, tools and a USB cable. Software for the unit and a user’s manual are all found online, as well as tech support from the manufacturer. Although it is designed as an expert-level printer, its capabilities and size make it user-friendly to the average builder. The price also allows for accessibility to a great printer with a large print volume.
Although the Duplicator 5 is not as versatile as other printers, it does what it is capable of doing with a high level of success. Its tech upgrades in the way of high-level motors and Bowden-style extruder allow for an up-tempo machine that prints with a high degree of accuracy, even though printing with multiple materials or colors is out of the question. For a borderline industrial machine, this printer packs much punch for the price, and is worthy of ranking on our list of iReviews 2014 best 3D printers under $5,000.
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