First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

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chippwalters
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First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:17 pm

So, I received my Afinia printer yesterday. Hurrah!

I had viewed just about all the youtube videos including the unboxing ones and so setup was pretty much a snap other than the fact leveling the print bed was a pain. Not sure if I succeeded in a perfect level, but I hear I'll get better at it.

Since none of the Octave'other stuff' came (I bought the Octave "The Works" package), it was just the barebones Afinia with white OEM ABS and the stuff which comes with it.

I installed the software on an old PC laptop, and then on my new Mac laptop and using the perf boards, printed out the calibration STL file. It was pretty much dead on, just a very minor adjustment in the X1,X2 distances. Verticals were vertical.

Knowing I'll be receiving my Octave 'The Works' stuff on Monday, I figured my first real print would be the mounting bracket(s) for the Octave spools. Here are my observations keeping in mind I've got quite a few hours over the last year on my Cubify Cube Series 1 printer.

The Good News
  • Wow. Just Wow. I had NO idea of the quality of this printer vs the Cube. The mounting bracket has all sorts of engraved and protruding 3D text and the resolution is just marvelous. No way it gets printed on the Cube either series 1 or 2. In fact I printed at .35 resolution and I still could not make out the 'print lines' on my model.
  • The printing is very fast and efficient. At least 2X the speed of my Cube. I suspect it's even a bit faster than the series 2 Cube-- though I don't know for sure.
  • Zero part warping using the perf boards. I'm not used to printing with rafts and supports, but it's clear rafts are necessary when printing on perf. I may try some blue tape next. Never was 100% successful in elimnating warp on the Cube even with the heated bed. And I could NEVER get anything close to a warpless print on the Cube V2 which doesn't have a printed bed.
  • Even though I don't like printing with rafts and supports, it is AMAZING how easy those things just snap off! It's got me thinking I can print more 0 degree overhangs...
  • I like the printer tells me when it's done with a few loud beeps. (It would be nice to turn this off for nightime printing)
Not so Good
  • Workflow and pipeline is..well pretty bad compared to what I'm used to.
    So, here's how I prefer working based on the Cubify Cube. Just before heading out, I walk over to the Cube, boot it up (10 seconds), remove the aluminum heating bed, add some heat activated glue stick to it. Drop it back on the printer, choose the print file (on an attached USB drive) using the buttons on the front of the machine, and then walk away. The file loads, the print bed and nozzle heat up and the print automatically begins. When I come back later, the part is finished and has already snapped clean of the bed (because of the cooling), and I toss it in a bin and turn off the printer. Total time for prep before is maybe 2 minutes-- after 30 seconds. Note ALL the raft and support settings, as well as the slice settings of the model are stored with the model file, so when you choose it from the USB drive, it just works.

    Here's the workflow currently I'm using for Afinia. (Please let me know if I'm doing anything wrong.) Turn on Afinia. Boot up laptop (2-3 minutes) and launch the UP! software. Initialize (45 seconds), then preheat bed for 15 minutes. Prepare print bed by clipping perf to it and moving it around using the maintenance tool so I can attach clips on the front and back of the print bed (with Cubify Cube, the printbed just magnetically snaps in place). Load model and tweak setup settings. Wait until print bed is 100 degrees C (12 min). Print and then choose options. Wait for it to send to printer (my last print was 240 layers and took 3min 20sec to transfer!). Then press OK for print. I *think* you may NOT have to press OK and it will go ahead and print. Too bad they don't have a mode which says 'start printing X minutes after the bed heats up to 100 degrees.' That would help a lot.

    When the print is finished, I try and get to it ASAP so that it will snap of the perf easier. If I don't it's a huge pain to get it clear of the perf platform. Plus the raft and support removal is a separate step. I'll be interested to see if I can print raftless and supportless on glass.

    Huge difference. No longer is it a trivial matter to setup a print and walk away. It's at the fastest 20 minutes to go from a cold printer to walking away. Am I missing something?
  • Software is a bit tempermental to say the least. The Mac software really sucks. As soon as I send a print using the Mac software, most time the app becomes unresponsive afterwards. You can't pause or do anything else. Cubify software just works-- everytime. Never had a single problem. But, the UP! software does have many more options and features-- MANY. Like the ability to pause and change spools OR monitor nozzle and bed temperature.
  • No status view of any kind on the Afinia. I miss knowing how long until I'm done. I'm currently using my Mac to run the software, but as I said the app locks up after sending to print. I tried a PC, but it was an old laptop and took FOREVER to do the slicing compared to the Mac which did it in seconds. I'll add a faster laptop and see if it doesn't work better.
  • Some Nits
    • The smell of ABS is definitely quite a bit stronger than Cubify. I wonder if it's because the nozzle temp is higher?
    • The Afinia is also quite a bit louder. Nothing terrible, but unlike Cubify, not something you can go to sleep with!
The Verdict
Afinia wins hands down. It's simple. I pick print quality over ease-of-use. Besides, the Cubify has 3 serious deal-killers. No heated print bed, DRM'd cartridges and a ridiculously stupid printhead design that needs replacing when it clogs.

Just imagine how sweet would it be for someone to create an after market Raspberry Pi device which could print UP! files via USB and included a readout? Just pop it in the USB port. Yep, I'd pay for that! Too bad UP! doesn't have an API...

mr6k
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by mr6k » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:26 pm

Great to learn of your comparison.

A couple of points re the UP.

Yes, the print will start automatically after a while even if you do not click the confirmation window after the slicing has been sent to the printer.

You can turn on the bed heater in the maintenance window as soon as you have initialized the printer and and it will stay on after the print finishes, for a while. This would reduce the wait time.

On the PC software, I don't know about the Mac software. if you look at the bottom right while it is printing, it shows how much time is to go to completion. (Some of us have requested that the layer number being printed would be useful as well !)

cheers

Peter

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JuliaDee
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by JuliaDee » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:41 pm

For small prints that you don't think will have a warpage problem, it's not strictly necessary to bring the bed fully up to 100C before starting. I often start printing at less than full be temp; giving the bed an acetone wipe gives you even more slack since it will soften any ABS that's already in the perfboard holes, which will help adhesion and penetration.

Regarding "getting to the print as soon as possible", I think you'll find that everything comes off/apart easier if you let it cool. Flex the perfboard to break the bonds a bit and use the paint scraper that comes with it (maybe coming in your Octave package?) to cut the raft from the perfboard. Note that the scraper has a bevelled edge and a flat edge. When scraping off the perfboard I use the bevelled edge up, but in all other cases be sure to keep the bevelled edge away from your part or it can dig into your part. Here's a handy "bench hook" fixture I use for raft and support removal:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:131301

The display at the lower right corner under Windows does display both the layer number and remaining time:
Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 7.35.11 PM.png
Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 7.35.11 PM.png (21.98 KiB) Viewed 17727 times
Yes, the Mac software sux.

julia

doraemon
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by doraemon » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:54 pm

The slicing speed is definitely dependent on the computer's speed. When we first got a UP! at work, I paired it with an old Pentium IV that could barely run XP. Thinking it was throttled by the USB 1.1 ports, I added a USB 2.0 card. Didn't make any difference, but what did help was replacing the PC with a faster one.

Printing on glass, I know raftless definitely works but I haven't dabbled with skipping all support. Also, I generally hit the Table Preheat option as soon as I start the software, just to give the build plate a head start while I load my part and get it ready for printing. I usually tell the print to start once the bed reaches ~60C. By the time the part is sliced and sent to the printer, the bed and nozzle are close to printing temperature.

chippwalters
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:42 am

mr6k wrote:Great to learn of your comparison.

A couple of points re the UP.

Yes, the print will start automatically after a while even if you do not click the confirmation window after the slicing has been sent to the printer.

You can turn on the bed heater in the maintenance window as soon as you have initialized the printer and and it will stay on after the print finishes, for a while. This would reduce the wait time.

On the PC software, I don't know about the Mac software. if you look at the bottom right while it is printing, it shows how much time is to go to completion. (Some of us have requested that the layer number being printed would be useful as well !)

cheers

Peter
Thanks Peter, very helpful! :D

chippwalters
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:44 am

JuliaDee wrote:For small prints that you don't think will have a warpage problem, it's not strictly necessary to bring the bed fully up to 100C before starting. I often start printing at less than full be temp; giving the bed an acetone wipe gives you even more slack since it will soften any ABS that's already in the perfboard holes, which will help adhesion and penetration.

Regarding "getting to the print as soon as possible", I think you'll find that everything comes off/apart easier if you let it cool. Flex the perfboard to break the bonds a bit and use the paint scraper that comes with it (maybe coming in your Octave package?) to cut the raft from the perfboard. Note that the scraper has a bevelled edge and a flat edge. When scraping off the perfboard I use the bevelled edge up, but in all other cases be sure to keep the bevelled edge away from your part or it can dig into your part. Here's a handy "bench hook" fixture I use for raft and support removal:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:131301

The display at the lower right corner under Windows does display both the layer number and remaining time:
Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 7.35.11 PM.png
Yes, the Mac software sux.

julia
Julia to the rescue again. Thanks for the widget link at thingaverse, though I don't understand how the STL file fits in. Good stuff about the scraper-- didn't know that and for some reason I thought I read it's better to remove while hot. Have to reset my thinking on that. :D

chippwalters
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:45 am

doraemon wrote:The slicing speed is definitely dependent on the computer's speed. When we first got a UP! at work, I paired it with an old Pentium IV that could barely run XP. Thinking it was throttled by the USB 1.1 ports, I added a USB 2.0 card. Didn't make any difference, but what did help was replacing the PC with a faster one.

Printing on glass, I know raftless definitely works but I haven't dabbled with skipping all support. Also, I generally hit the Table Preheat option as soon as I start the software, just to give the build plate a head start while I load my part and get it ready for printing. I usually tell the print to start once the bed reaches ~60C. By the time the part is sliced and sent to the printer, the bed and nozzle are close to printing temperature.
Yep, I was using an old Gateway netbook and the slicing took forever. Then on my Mac is finished in a couple of seconds. Didn't miss that. I'm now rebuilding an old Core 2 Duo Sony laptop which should be plenty fast AND have the PC software.

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JuliaDee
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by JuliaDee » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:07 am

The STL file was just a dummy to get Thingiverse to accept the Thing, since it requires at least one file that's not an image - I mentioned that in the instructions section I think.

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by JuliaDee » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:18 am

chippwalters wrote:Print and then choose options. Wait for it to send to printer (my last print was 240 layers and took 3min 20sec to transfer!). Then press OK for print. I *think* you may NOT have to press OK and it will go ahead and print. Too bad they don't have a mode which says 'start printing X minutes after the bed heats up to 100 degrees.'
The light bulb just went on about what you're seeing here. Once you hit "OK" to the print dialog, everything is automatic and you can walk away. It does throw up a dialog once all data's been sent to the printer telling you how long it will take and how much material will be used, but that's just informative; it's not waiting for you to click OK to that dialog. What it is waiting for at that point is for the extruder to warm up. As soon as the extruder's ready printing will start automatically. The time lag depends on how long it takes to transfer the data; I think it starts heating the extruder as soon as slicing is done. So if your data goes quickly the lag will seem long, but if if your data takes a while the extruder will be pretty warm at that point. Using 3rd-party filament and a temperature-reduction mod will reduce extruder heat-up time significantly since it only has to get up to 230 or whatever instead of 260-270.

julia

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by roller » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:05 am

Just to be clear ... the Mac interface does not have a time to complete or current layer function. For us it finishes when it finishes. This figure is also an estimate - it should be pretty close to right but it's not exact. On a few hours print I've found it to be out by less than 10 minutes though.

chippwalters
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First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:22 am

Yep. I think I'm going to go with the PC version of the software. I've got 2.0 installed and right now I'm doing some calibration prints of bolts and nuts and holes and cylinders and wall thicknesses.

I was able to get the Octave spool holder printed out just fine. This thing is amazing.

roller
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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by roller » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:25 am

chippwalters wrote:Yep. I think I'm going to go with the PC version of the software. I've got 2.0 installed and right now I'm doing some calibration prints of bolts and nuts and holes and cylinders and wall thicknesses.

I was able to get the Octave spool holder printed out just fine. This thing is amazing.
Until the next update you do get a few extra cool features by using the Windows version. This is almost always the case (that the Mac version lags). The Windows interface is also better and has less broken stuff. I have complained about the "Open Recent" showing nothing since version 1.3 and it's still broken. If you did install the Mac version you might want to remove the Up folder it puts on the root of your drive. You will need to seize ownership of it first. It just contains the parts and sample prints.

chippwalters
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First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:28 am

Yep. It seems like that's the rule. Interestingly, it doesn't even seem like the version numbers are in sync in terms of the features between the two platforms. Is that the case?

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by roller » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:33 am

Yup. Totally out of sync though I am hoping that will change in the future.

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by LonV » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:41 am

Until the Mac version is a first class citizen...I'd stick with the PC version. Particularly if you want to print without support.

When you get your octave stuff, try printing with glass...I like it much better. There's sort of a learning curve to know how to get things to adhere, but there are all sorts of options now. Currently I'm using Aquanet hairspray directly on glass.

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by lukeott » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:31 pm

chippwalters wrote: ALL the raft and support settings, as well as the slice settings of the model are stored with the model file, so when you choose it from the USB drive, it just works....
Models can be saved as UP projects (*.UPP) which saves the parameters. In this way it will be quicker to get up and running next time you print the model. Just a thought.

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by roller » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:54 pm

I think only all the parameters are saved in the version 2.0. Prior to that I think only the model and it's orientation/positioning are saved in an UPP file ... please correct me if I'm wrong here.

chippwalters
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First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by chippwalters » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:39 am

Yep that's what I read too. It's the difference between the .UP and .UPP format. Cool!

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by JuliaDee » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:49 am

I'm finding that the UPP format seems flaky, and is not correctly recalling the parameters I saved it with. Haven't done any thorough testing yet and it could be operator error, but I recommend double-checking all the settings before hitting "print" just to be sure.

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Re: First impressions Afinia VS Cubify

Post by roller » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:18 am

JuliaDee wrote:I'm finding that the UPP format seems flaky, and is not correctly recalling the parameters I saved it with. Haven't done any thorough testing yet and it could be operator error, but I recommend double-checking all the settings before hitting "print" just to be sure.
That's a shame.

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