The Flashforge Finder is an affordably priced home 3D printer that offers good print quality and a variety of connection choices. It has a modest build area and is limited to printing with polylactic acid filament (PLA), but neither of those are deal breakers at the sub £500 price point. The Flashforge Finder proved to be a reasonably reliable 3D printer that can produce good-quality 3D prints.
The Finder is an open-frame 3D printer with a single extruder. It’s shaped like a cube, but has rounded corners and beveled top edges. This model measures 34cm x 34cm x 34cm (HWD) and weighs 12.25kg so will easily fit on a moderate sized desk. The build volume is a modest 14cm x 14cm x14cm, smaller than the LulzBot Mini, the XYZPrinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 and the MakerBot Replicator Mini.
Setting up the Finder is relatively simple and straightforward, the Finder comes fully assembled and includes a spool of blue PLA filament, which you insert into a removable chamber that fits in the rear of the printer. You then thread the filament’s loose end through a hole in the top of the box, and insert it into the top of the extruder assembly. The instructions on the touch screen guide you through the process step by step. When the machine starts extruding filament, loading is complete.
The Finder is limited to printing with PLA filament. Most 3D printers can also use acrylonitrile butadiene acrylate (ABS), and others, such as the LulzBot Mini can use a variety of exotic filaments as well. For beginners though, PLA is the best choice.
Once the filament is installed, you remove the build plate from the printer and cover it with a sheet of blue 3M tape, similar to the blue tape we’ve seen with many other 3D printers, but with the Flashforge name and logo painted on it, several sheets are included in the box. Then you plug the printer in, turn it on, and follow the instructions for leveling the build plate from the quick-start guide.
To level the build plate, you first tighten three thumb screws under the plate as far as you can, and press Next on the printer’s touch screen. The extruder will move and come to rest just above the build plate, above the rear thumb screw. You then loosen that screw, which pushes the plate upward against a sensor, until you hear a tone. Then you tighten the screw until the tone stops, press Next, and then repeat these steps for the other two thumb screws. After that your build plate is level. You then download Flashforge’s Flashprint software from the company’s site, or install it from the USB thumb drive that comes with the printer. Once the software is installed, you can load a 3D object file, which you can move, rotate, or rescale. When you’re done, you press Print, and a dialog box appears; it lets you change the print resolution (the default resolution is 200 microns, and you can set anywhere from 100 to 500), and add a raft and/or supports. Additional options are available from an advanced menu. When you’re done, you can save the file to a USB thumb drive, which you plug into the printer, or send the job to the printer over a USB 2.0 or Wi-Fi connection from your PC.
Printing using the Flashforge Finder is pretty straightforward but it is not quite as good as the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, but better than the XYZPrinting da Vinci Jr. and the LulzBot TAZ 5 3D Printer. It performed well in test prints, all printed using Flashforge’s blue filament. As a relative novice to 3D printing the Finder is about as simple and easy to use as it gets.
The Flashforge Finder is very good for an entry level priced 3D printer. You can print with it over a USB or Wi-Fi connection, or from a USB thumb drive. This isn’t the breakout consumer model 3D printer we’ve been hoping for, but the Finder did show flashes of promise. If you’re shopping on a budget, the Flashforge Finder is a great entry level 3D printer on which to cut your 3D printing teeth.