Frequently Asked Questions – Updated 8/20/12
I plan to buy the Solidoodle 2 3D printer. Is that all I will need to start printing?
Yes, the printer comes with (almost) everything you need to start printing, including a small roll of starter filament. Follow our instructions on installing the free software package here, plug the printer in, and you can start printing 3D files.
To handle your prints, which come off a hot printing bed, you will also want tweezers and a small chisel. We are in the process of seeing if we can offer these through our website.
The printer comes with a very small amount of starter filament. This amounts to about 10 turns of a normal spool. It is just barely enough for a very small print.
You will surely want to buy at least one full roll of filament in addition to the starter filament. See below regarding how long these spools last.
The machine should not need maintenance in the short term, but over time, you will want to have multi-purpose grease on hand to lube the rods and keep your prints smooth.
You will also want to have replacement Kapton tape. This is a specialty tape that comes attached to the Solidoodle 2’s print bed and keeps your prints sticking to the print bed. Kapton tape is fragile and may get torn or scraped – so keep extra on hand.
Both grease and Kapton tape will soon be made available through our website.
Do you have a warranty? Do you repair the machines?
It’s very rare that anything breaks, but we are prepared if it does. Although we do not offer an official warranty at the moment, we will do our best to keep you up and running.
Our policy is to treat everyone fairly, and it has worked for the last few years. If something breaks down and we can diagnose the problem, we will ship you a replacement part and walk you through the repair process. Our tech support will be ready to help and guide.
Depending on the circumstance (time since delivery, nature of the problem, the printer’s location), we will work with the customer on determining whether we provide a free replacement part, share some of the cost, or find another remedy. We want to do our best to make sure you remain a customer.
As a last resort, we may opt to provide you with a replacement machine. We typically discourage returns unless there is a serious manufacturing defect.
Are your machines actually “In Stock”? I’m confused as to the actual wait time. Solidoodle does not keep machines “In Stock”. Instead, machines are “Made to Order”. This means that we do not keep extra machines around, and only begin making a machine after it is ordered. The confusion comes from our online store, which lists our products as “In Stock”. Our current cart system does not have an option for “Made to Order”. Made to order services do not fit well with the workings of most cart systems.
The current wait time for machines is eight to ten weeks.
I made an order, but I want to add items to it. How do I do that?
Generally speaking, our current cart service does not allow modifications to orders once they have been paid. In some cases, modifications to orders are advisable, and in others are not necessary. The most common case is customers asking to add filament. Filament usually ships separately and is billed by weight rather than size. For this reason, there are no savings by keeping the filament on the same order. In short, there is no problem with placing a new order for filament as a stand alone order. It will still ship at a similar time to your Solidoodle printer.
I ordered a Solidoodle, but my order still says “Pending.” What’s wrong?
Nothing! All orders are marked as pending until the moment they are shipped. This is actually a confirmation that we have received your payment, and that your order is being worked on. Remember, the current wait time for machines is eight-ten weeks.
When should I order if I want my unit to arrive by Christmas?
Without sounding like a salesman, I would recommend you order now. While I doubt the wait time will be 4 months for anyone, I personally, would rather be safe than sorry. That said, if you plan on buying a Solidoodle as a Christmas present, I would suggest you place a note in your order to that effect.
Does the Solidoodle Require Maintenance?
The Solidoodle should require very little day to day maintenance. Every few months the rods should be greased with multipurpose lithium grease. Occasionally, filament dust may accumulate on the driver gear. If this happens, use a toothbrush to clean the drive gear through the access port on the front of the extruder (no disassembley required).
Occasionally (once every three months or so) you may need to check the belt tightness. Belts should be snug, but not drum tight.
Is the Solidoodle easily modified by users?
We have had a number of requests to add features, and some users have made their intentions to modify the Solidoodle clear. Please understand that if you modify your Solidoodle it will make it harder for us to give you support – it is harder to understand parts that we did not make.
Can the Solidoodle be modified to use dual extruders?
The short answer is no. While many companies use a more generic extruder assembly, we assemble ours in house, out of custom parts. This means it would most likely be tricky to modify the printer to use dual extruders. If you’d like to see a feature like dual extruders be added for the future, e-mail your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t make promises, but we do listen to our customers needs.
Why do you recommend using your ABS plastic? Does PLA also work?
Most ABS and PLA plastic should work in your machine. There are many different types and quality of ABS and PLA plastic spools on the market. Make sure you find plastic of high quality. Low quality plastic can make inconsistent prints or jam the extruder head.
The ABS you can buy from our website was tested and modified to ensure a smooth and even print flow. The Solidoodle 2’s default heat and extruder settings were determined with the plastic that we offer on our website.
PLA is awesome stuff. Unfortunately it has a little lower melting point, and is less consistent as a printing plastic. You may have to mount a fan on the extruder to prevent the PLA from softening. When we find a suitable PLA and can determine the right heat settings for it, we will start selling it through our website.
What about more exotic plastics? Do they work?
To be honest, we haven’t done a lot of experiments with other plastics. We get wonderful ideas on new materials every day, and we just can’t investigate them all. That said, we are aware of the issues that will make exotic plastics work, or fail. It is important to realize that the Solidoodle comes with temperature settings, and extruder settings that are optimal for ABS. This means that a plastic with a different melting temperature may flow too freely, or not flow at all.
Another, more dire concern is that of fumes. We have received inquiries about printing with Nylon, and Polycarbonate. Both of these materials have potentially dangerous fumes, and should only be used with great care, and expert knowledge. We strongly suggest that you do not consider printing with materials that have dangerous fumes.
What is the resolution of the Solidoodle 2?
The resolution is determined by the height of each layer. The default print resolution is .3mm, which achieves a good balance among part quality and printing speed. It is possible to print hi-res at .1mm resolution – at this resolution it’s difficult for an untrained eye to tell that the parts have been created with a 3D printer.
Check out our Store Slideshow and Gallery for sample photos.
How does this compare to other 3D printers?
For those looking for technical details and comparing our print quality, let us explain. First, it matters how we define the resolution of a 3D printer. In the Z direction (up & down) it’s easy—we simply talk in terms of the layer height. Typically the Solidoodle—and other sub-$3000 printers on the market—print a layer every 0.3mm. At Solidoodle, we’ve printed as low as 0.1mm (100 Microns). It’s important to remember that the layer height is simply controlled by software.
Now let’s talk about the resolution in the horizontal (X-Y) plane. The Solidoodle is capable of repeatedly positioning its printhead to within 0.011mm of the same spot each time. However, you can see how it’s a little superfluous to say that the resolution in the vertical (Z) direction is 0.1mm or 0.3mm and the resolution in the X-Y (horizontal) direction is 0.011mm. So for simplicity’s sake we typically define the resolution in terms of the coarsest direction, that is, the layer height.
To further compound the problem of specifying the X-Y resolution, the printhead is extruding plastic through a 0.35mm nozzle. This is comparable or better than our competitors. But it’s important to remember that ABS plastic oozes and expands a bit when it comes out of the nozzle. So imagine trying to define the exact position of a garden hose nozzle on an automatic sprinkler system to within millimeters. Even though the motor on the automatic sprinkler may be capable of positioning the water nozzle to within millimeters, in the end the water is going to spray out of the big nozzle over a larger area in a somewhat random manner. The same is true of the plastic extrusion nozzle of a 3D printer, although on a smaller scale.
So to simplify, we typically define resolution in terms of the layer height, which will be most visible to the end user. In reality, the Solidoodle and its competitors will have about the same resolution.
What about finishing techniques? Sanding?
While most of our customers love the models directly off the machine, some have endeavored to “finish” them. Finishing techniques for ABS models may include sanding, and acetone washes. Both of these techniques take some skill, but are relatively effective. If customers show great interest in such techniques, we may post tutorials in the future. Great care should be taken when working with acetone – it is flammable, and the fumes may irritate your lungs. Using a respirator, is highly recommended.
Will the Solidoodle work with my 3D Design Software, such as Solidworks, Google Sketchup, Rhino, etc?
Most likely the answer is yes. The printing software accepts 3D files in STL format, which is a universal file format. As long as your 3D design software can Save/Export as an STL file, you should be good to go.
How much does it cost to print one part? How long will my filament last?
Our ABS filament costs $43 for a 2-lb spool. This will keep you printing for a long time. For example, the Yoda on our Gallery Page is about 3″ wide and costs about USD 40 cents to print. This also depends on the amount of “filler” your objects have. Our default is 20%.
If you print one object a day, a 2-lb spool should last you a few months.
Does the Solidoodle have to remain tethered to the computer in order to print?
At this point the Solidoodle must remain tethered to the user’s computer.
Update: A bright Solidoodle fan has modified his Solidoodle to use a SD reader – check out the details here
Does Solidoodle offer any larger models? 6x6x6 just isn’t enough.
Can you build a larger model as a custom order?
At this point, we do not have any plans to create a larger Solidoodle. Our current focus is to provide an affordable, reliable 3D printer. Because of the large number of orders Solidoodle is receiving, it is not possible to fulfill custom order requests. Creating a larger Solidoodle would require extensive work on the hardware, firmware, and software, as well as a dedicated team working on a “one off” machine. Feel free to inquire about these sorts of orders in the future. As our company expands, they may become possible.
What software does the Solidoodle use?
We supply pre-configured software packages of Skeinforge and Pronterface (using Python) to run the printer. Everything comes pre-calibrated so printing is simple. Check out our friendly guide on How to Install the Software, which will be updated with pre-calibrated downloads in coming weeks. The software is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux.
Does the Solidoodle print support material?
Yes, the Solidoodle can print support material for overhangs from the same ABS or PLA plastic material you use to print. The support material can be broken off after the print is completed. It’s rare, however, that you will choose to use support material. The Solidoodle can typically print 45 – 60 degree overhangs. Check out the Yoda (first photo) on the Gallery Page, which was printed without support material.
Is the support material water soluble?
No, the support material is made of the same ABS plastic as the model itself. A craft knife such as an X-Acto knife will remove the supports very well.
What are the Technical Specs of the Solidoodle 2?
- Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) a.k.a Thermoplastic Extrusion
- Electronics: RepRap Sanguinololu v1.3a
- Extruder: Nichrome powered extruder, moves in the horizontal plane (X-Y), build platform moves in the vertical direction (Z).
- Nozzle Size: .35mm nozzle
- Weight: 17 lbs
- Printer Size: 12” x 12” x 11 1/2”
- Build Size: 6″ x 6″ x 6″
- Material(s): ABS filament recommended, but use of PLA is possible
- Power Supply: Works on US Voltage (120V) or European Voltage (240V)
- Consumes 110-120 Watts
- Spring loaded extruder drive virtually eliminates the need for adjusting the extruder – no thumb screws to adjust or release filament
When will my printer be shipped?
Currently, your printer will ship 8 to 10 weeks after we receive your order. We are working very hard to get your order out the door. It’s well worth the wait.
Concerning the long wait, there is more information on our blog.
Do you ship to my country, territory, private island?
Yes, we ship around the world – anywhere USPS or UPS goes.
In your shopping cart, you can get a price estimate on your shipping options.
At checkout, you can select the shipping option and see the final price.
Please note that we cannot estimate your countries import taxes at this time.
Shipping times are as follows:
UPS Worldwide Express: 1 – 3 day shipping worldwide
USPS Priority Mail International: 6 – 10 business days.
Please visit USPS or UPS websites for more information about shipping to your address.
If outside of the United States, must I pay customs duties, import taxes, VAT, etc?
Customs fees, import taxes and VAT may apply and are not included in your order.
Can you estimate import duties for me?
We do not have access to the import information for individual countries. Our shipping service takes care of this for us. Import duties can actually be very hard to estimate for a product like the Solidoodle. We suggest you try a duty estimating website like:
While this is not exact, it may give you a ballpark estimate of the cost.
Solidoodle receives several inquiries a day from prospective distributors. While we would like to consider everyone for a distributorship, we cannot. If you would like to be considered for a distributorship, please send as much information as possible about your company.
We do not have any distributors yet, but we would love to in the future. We are currently overwhelmed with orders, but we will provide more information in coming weeks and months. Please stay in touch and we look forward to talking more about cooperation.
Do you already have a distributor in my country?
As Solidoodle has not formalized relationships with any distributor whatsoever, the answer will always be no.
Have a question not listed here? Email us at support ‘at” solidoodle [dot} com