Even though the printers look almost identical from the outside, there's been a lot of changes. It's interesting to see how far this design has evolved over two years. It feels like my 2011 machine was a beta release, and the new one is more like a finished product. Here are some of the differences I've noticed (so far):
- The overall fit and finish has improved dramatically. I noticed as soon as I took the new printer out of the box that it felt tighter, like they improved the manufacturing tolerances. Also, it came full assembled and adjusted (though the screw attaching the print head was loose). My old printer required about 20-30 minutes of assembly.
- I like the automatic platform calibration and height sensing more than I expected to. As someone who has been using an Up for two years I'm comfortable making these adjustments by hand, though I could see the value for a new user. When I tried it, though, it was just so much easier and more precise and convenient than doing it the old fashioned way.
- The heat sink and fan on the print head has been completely redesigned. The new design seems much better designed to keep the area around the filament feed cool, which should help prevent jams with PLA caused by the material softening prematurely from the heat of the motor. I haven't tested this yet.
- They got rid of the filament feed motor from the Up Plus. It never did much anyway except break.
- There's now a large square hole on the left side of the printer for attaching a bracket for a filament reel. Much easier than the old design which required taking off a couple body screws and screwing the bracket in place.
- The switch on the front of the printer is now labeled "Initialize." It took me months to figure out what that switch did on my old printer.
- The new printer is a lot quieter. The beeper has been toned down a lot, and the fans are not nearly as loud. I think they may have gotten rid of the cooling fan for the electronics, but I'm not certain of that.
- The power and USB plugs are different designs which seem a lot more robust.
- The black perfboard feels stiffer than the perfboard which came with the old printer, plus I got three sheets--making it quicker to start a new print and have some spares on hand.
- The spring clips to hold the perfboard are a lot nicer than the binder clips from the old printer (though the new printer also came with a set of binder clips--this is a bit mysterious to me). I think the binder clips were actually a little easier to use, but they also have a bad habit of flying across the room and landing behind furniture if I accidentally "snap" them.
- The connector board on the print head has some new, currently unused, plugs. Curious to know what those are for.
- I noticed a lot of redesigned components and connections. In particular, the platform heater is a new design, which is good given how problematic the old design was.
- The platform has been lengthened front to back to make room for the platform height sensor. The print area remains the same, so the platform has some unusable area in the back.
- The platform leveling screws are much tighter and more robust. Once adjusted, they should almost never need readjusting unless the printer gets whanged pretty hard.
Oh, and there was one other change over the past two years: this printer cost about half what I paid in 2011.