My bench has seen half a dozen 3D printers in the last year, and Robo’s R2 is the first one that produced a great first print out of the box.
Spending as much time as I have with 3D printers, I was acclimated to the expectation that any 3D printer, even models near the R2's $1500 price point, would need some trial and error print setting tweaks to produce a good print. Not one I’ve owned has successfully printed my first request out of the box- not one until I set the Robo R2 into motion.
Unpacking the Robo R2 from its fortress of packaging gives an immediate sense of the apparatus suspended within it. I carefully removed many foam blocks, tiny boxes, cardboard baffles, tape, and plastic braces to unearth a self-contained white plastic and clear acrylic machine of refined design that looks like it should be in a lab or cleanroom. However, the real beauty of this 3D printer is in the sum of all the features beneath this skin. Everything I dream of getting for $1500 is here - WiFi, touchscreen, 20 micron resolution, an evenly heated print bed, support for over 30 types of filament (ABS, PLA, flex, etc.,) a massive 8x8x10 inch print volume, one year of Autodesk Fusion 360, and Amazon Alexa voice control are just the highlights.
Skimming the manual and quick-start guide, I plugged it in and booted it up. The R2's touchscreen immediately walked me through WiFi setup and a web-delivered update that took a lot less time than unpacking it did. I used the on-board software’s wizard to load an included .5kg spool of PLA filament. It was ready for a file, so I started downloading their Windows software (Mac also available.)
After installing Robo’s customized version of Cura next to many of its Cura brothers, I let it find the R2 over the network and authorized Cura with the R2's API key. After little fanfare, everything was connected and ready for a job. I loaded my standard test file, a Settlers of Catan tile from Thingiverse, and sent it to the Robo with no adjustments. The 3D printer whined to life in the adjacent office and immediately began pre-heating its extruder nozzle and print bed. This beats the hell out of walking a file-laden USB stick to the machine and punching buttons like I’m used to.
I let Cura hand me over to a browser-based GUI of the Octoprint software being served from the Robo R2. Over the next several hours and in between actual work, I often tabbed over to Octoprint to make sure everything was running smoothly. It always was. These check-ins were made quick and easy by customizeable charts, datapoints, info readouts, and the R2's onboard video camera. Remotely watching the printer work is mesmerizing.
When the Robo’s choreography finished, the print was not only good, it was better than all but one of my painstakingly dialed-in previous prints of similar Catan tiles from comparable 3D printers.
Over the next eleven days, I rarely let the R2 idle. It allowed me to interrupt prints and change filament colors on a whim. It automatically paused and alerted me when it ran out of filament, resuming its step after a guided re-load. Job after job, it never failed to produce a millimeter-perfect print. The $1500 you spend on a Robo R2 3D printer is paid back in dividends of saved time.