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Artillery Hornet 3D Printer Flies in For a Review

Artillery’s Hornet is their newest entry level FDM 3D printer. It is sized similar to other popular “bed slinger” models with a build volume of 200mm*200mm*250mm. Overall, it has characteristics similar to most home and hobby grade 3D printers. However, the Hornet has a few unique and useful designs features. This will help it stand apart from the ever-increasing budget printer crowds. Let’s find out if Artillery’s new printer performs while printing common calibration and custom designs.

Hornet Assembled

Highlighted features

Here is a quick list of some of the Hornet’s features before digging into the full review.

  • Exclusive & Patent Pending Bowden Tube and Cable Harness
  • Top Mounted Z-Axis Motor Assembly
  • Dual Gear Extruder – Titan Style
  • 32 Bit Mainboard – From Artillery
  • Silent Motor Drivers – Replaceable
  • Overall <70db rating – Mostly from case fans
  • Marlin 2 based firmware – Utilizing Dial Screen and Full SD Card
  • Textured Borosilicate Glass Print Surface – Glued to Hotbed
  • Study Metal Frame with Injection Molded Housings – Attractive and Colorful
  • Side Mounted Filament Holder – Injection Molded
  • 200mm*200mm*250mm – Popular Size
  • Product Dimension 470mm*450mm*510 mm – Full Assembly
  • 95% Pre-assembled – 3 minute Assembly – Excluding verification and adjustments

Keep reading to see my opinions, slicer profile and print quality.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcHqY_40cUQ]

Artillery Hornet Unpacking and Setup

The Hornet 3D printer was packaged securely in a company branded box. Artillery secured the Hornet with multiple pieces of dense foam and zip ties to prevent shipping damage and movement. All the components survived the international shipment. No pieces were missing or excessively loose during the unboxing and setup.

Hornet Unboxing

The following slideshow highlights the secure packaging, contents and multiple views of the hotend assembly and its unique connection plug.

Hornet Assembly

Assembly of the Artillery Hornet is very straightforward. Being mostly pre-built, the 3D printer only requires SIX basic steps to complete the assembly. The steps are clearly outlined in the printed manual as well as the PDF found on the SD card.

1 – Align and attach the X-Z gantry to the base and tighten the four screws
2 – Gently snap the spool holder onto the frame
3 – Connect three wire connectors (Z End Stop, Z Stepper Motor and Main Cable)
4 – Install the hotend assembly to the X gantry with three screws
5 – Insert and tighten the extruder cable into the hotend and extruder
6 – Adjust the Eccentric nuts on the X Y and Z axis to ensure proper free flowing motion of the wheels

Beyond the basic assembly steps, I also checked and tightened every screw possible. This is a useful step when assembling all FDM printers. Assembly was simple and quick. Taking pictures took longer than the Hornet’s assembly!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL2ZEWR7iRQ]

Print Bed Leveling

Leveling of the printer’s build plate is the next process. Artillery has included a well-written explanation for manually adjusting the build plate using the paper method. Additionally, the firmware includes a menu option for corner leveling. This is significantly easier and faster than moving the head manually or using the move axis menus.

Beyond the initial four corner leveling, the firmware also has Marlin 2.0’s manual mesh settings enabled. Artillery’s firmware uses a 3 x 3 grid for a total of nine mesh points. Using the menu and a piece of paper, you are able to fine tune the gaps at the nine positions. This is the same principal that a bed sensor such as BLT Touch uses. After saving the mesh it can be activated in your slicer’s start GCode using the M420 S1 Z1 command after your G28 command.

Prior to using the bed mesh, I typically use a five circle test file to fine tune my corner adjustments. Links for custom slicer codes, Cura profiles, and a leveling test are linked below. These files should help new and experienced hobbyists get their Hornet 3D printer up and running faster.

Testing and Calibrating The Artillery Hornet

Normally I do not spend too much time calibrating a new FDM machine. Surprisingly, most tend to work rather well out of the box. Extruder Estep calibration and PID tuning is typically enough to get a new machine running. Further tweaking is usually required when switching material or early prints fail.

Out of the box, the Artillery Hornet provided some unsatisfactory test prints. Fortunately I learned that my PLA filament was damp and the cause of the poor quality. Unfortunately, it took nearly two weeks (mostly after work) of constant calibrating and slicer tweaks to determine this. Once I changed to a new roll of PLA, the Hornet performed as expected for a given layer height and speed combination. This proves that even an experienced 3D hobbyist can forget the basics, while dealing with surface quality issues.

Test Printing

After my extensive tail chasing because of damp filament, I restarted using multiple print calibrations files. Only one test design was loaded onto the provided SD card. Artillery included a custom curved rectangle with their logo as an STL file and a pre-sliced gcode file. Several other test files were gathered before and after tweaking the machine and my Cura profiles. The typical 20mm test cube, 3Dbenchy and some over hang test pieces were downloaded. Additionally, I have a custom designed file to check for stringing and curved surfaces. Once I satisfied with those parts’ quality, I began using the hornet for larger (non-miniature) scale figures and chibis.

Hornet 3D Printer Slicer Profile Setup

Setting up an initial profile in Cura 4.6.2 was for the Artillery Hornet is straightforward. The SD card and printed manual provide the setting required when adding a new machine in Cura. Start and end gcodes as well as some basic print profiles are also provided on the SD card.

Using Artillery’s profiles and codes did provide nice prints. Nonetheless, the end GCode needed some tweaking. Examining the code reveals that the extruder should retract 6mm of filament at the end of every print. Instead, my machine retracted 600mm, which completely emptied the bowden tube and extruder. Rather than spending too much time on troubleshooting, I created new profiles for Cura 4.8.0 with customized start and end gcodes.

Hornet Cura 4.8.0 Profiles

At this time 4.8.0 is the current release version of Cura. I have had good results with 4.6.2 as well as 4.8.0. New hobbyists may want to start with the included version. When ready you can download the current version from Ultimaker’s website. LINK 

My profiles are designed to print scale figures typically in the 1:10 or 1:6 scale. I focus on small layer heights/lines, slow to medium print speeds and minimal damage from tree supports. I REALLY hate sanding!! When printing functional or lower detailed projects, I will typically just increase the layer height and speed.

Orientating parts for minimal overhangs and adjusting the supports settings create the best prints. Feel free to use my profiles and sample files from this Inov3d Slicers article. Leave a message if you have any question, concerns or suggestions.

NOTE: While spending two weeks tweaking the machine, the nozzle opening was adjusted in Cura. The actual size was measured at 0.45mm and the setting was changed to further improve print quality.

Initial Impressions and Comments

After owning and setting up over a dozen FDM 3D printers, you realize a few things. Most importantly, no machine is perfect and they all require maintenance, eventually. Typically, all (non-defective) machines can produce similar results. Materials and slicers also affect the quality of your projects. Regardless of the external factors, every 3D printer has its own pros and cons. The Artillery Hornet is no different; yet the lines are a bit blurred. Below are some observations while using the Hornet for nearly four weeks.

Print Surface

The textured hardened glass provides good first layer adhesion and easy part removal once it cools. Artillery chose to glue the glass print surface to the heat bed. This attachment eliminates the need for paper clips and prevents shifting of the plate. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to replace if the glass becomes damaged or ends up with excessively worn surface texture. Additionally, the corners and edges of my glass have significant gaps which affect the leveling and mesh deviations.

Hornet Hotend Bowden Cable

Artillery’s patent pending bowden & hotend wiring combination connector is easy to assemble and use. The non-adjustable and permanent internal bowden tube eliminates the possibility of shifting and incorrect gaping at the hotend side. When replacing the connector, a complete assembly will be required. At this time there are no official or clone replacements available. (Artillery should have some for sale eventually).

Hotend maintenance is another difficult aspect of the Hornet. To fully access the assembly, the connector must be disconnected. This means that the hotend nozzle will start to cool down. Clearing the jams I had (when my retraction was too high) required a few cycles of heating, powering down, unplugging the connector and cleaning the nozzle. Although this process is doable, it is a bit cumbersome.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PFbJqSYgJc]

NOTE: After five (5) different jams at the end of the bowden tube, retraction length was reduced. Artillery’s Cura profile uses 6mm. Currently, my profiles are using between 3.0 and 4.0mm at 50mm/s.

Z-Axis

The Artillery Hornet has an inverted Z axis lead screw and motor setup. This configuration is suppose to help with vibration and wobble. So far all prints have completed without any vertical print flaws. Unfortunately, when changing filaments during a print, it was too easy to accidentally move the X gantry down while loading the extruder. This ruined the print. Upgrading the Hornet with an anti-backlash nut will reduce the potential shifting of the gantry.

Cooling Fans

Using two blower style fans for part cooling is a common hobbyist upgrade. Artillery provides an attractive hotend enclosure to house all of its wires nearly and their two blower fans. Regrettably neither air flow for the cooling fans is precisely aimed below the nozzle’s tip. Overhang tests showed mixed and inconsistent results. Nonetheless, the figures highlighted below printed particularly well with only a few rough areas with overhangs above 45 degrees. Hopefully creative customers design alternative enclosures that direct the air flow more accurately. This will assist with extreme angles and bridges.

NOTE: The wires for Hotend and one Part cooling fan were swapped at the factory. This was remedied easily, but swapping the two plugs within the hotend’s enclosure. Changing the wires here was quicker and easier than opening up the case and tracing wires.

Noise Levels

Silent drivers on the 32 bit main board keep the Hornet relatively silent. The power supply and main board cooling fans are the loudest items on the Hornet. Although the volume is acceptable, the tone and whooshing of the fans may be annoying to some users. Installing quieter fans is an easy and inexpensive upgrade. If you have basic wiring and soldering knowledge, this can be done quickly. FYI: Raising the printer up helps with some noise. Some 3D printed or store-bought feet will reduce the noise output.

Lacking Features and Items

An entry level 3D printer typically has some cost saving tradeoffs. The Artillery Hornet does not have a filament run-out sensor. This does reduce cost by using fewer components and allowing for a simpler main board. Not providing new hobbyist with essential tools and features is confusing. The Hornet is provided without a part scraper, hotend nozzle wrench, sample filament and a power resume feature. Finally, a silicone sock for the hotend block is not included.

Understandably sample filaments are typically junk and add to shipping costs. Scrapers are cheap. Many people own wrenches, though they may not be metric. I have not checked if standard socks fit the hotend block. Arguably customers should not need to source their own tools to operate a modern 3D printer. The lack of power resume is feature is surprising and will shock many users. When the power blips, it will probably ruin their prints.

Fear NOT! Hornet Buzzes with Quality

Despite some unique and entry level quirks, the Artillery Hornet IS a capable FDM 3D printer! In fact, the Hornet produced the least amount of ghosting out-of-the-box compared to the dozen FDM printers I have set up and owned. Further evidence can be seen in the featured prints below. Additionally, my Hornet is still running almost non-stop (in my living room).

Printed 3D Models

Let’s take a break from the technical and critical aspect of this review. Here are the first few figures I printed using the Artillery Hornet. With good filament and further tweaking of my Cura profile, the Hornet continues to impress.

Hitchhiker’s Marvin the Robot – FragMintz Collectibles

  • Older Model – Chat with Frag on Facebook about direct model sales
  • 0.10 Layers – 0.20 Support Z Distance – Cura Tree Supports
  • GST3D PLA+ @ 215C – Silver
  • Great Cuts/Keys – Perfect Fit even at 50%

Grogu Heart Hands – Hex3D

  • Previous Geoffro Patreon Release – Available in collection depot – Accessible after 3 months
  • 0.16 Layers – 0.16 Support Z Distance – Cura Tree Supports
  • GST3D PLA+ @ 215C – Army Green, Red, Gold, Brown
  • Good Cuts/Keys – Only wrists needed some sanding

Thing Chibi – 3DFigurePrints

  • Recent 3DXM Patreon Release – Inquire privately about missed Patreon models
  • Figure 2 of 5 for a combined Fantastic Four diorama
  • 0.10 Layers – 0.20 Support Z Distance – Cura Tree Supports
  • GST3D PLA+ @ 215C – Florescent Orange, Blue, Silver
  • Great Cuts/Keys – Perfect Fit

GrootPool Mashup – 3DFigurePrints

  • Stretch Goal from an older project – Messenger Dennis on Facebook about missed models
  • 0.10 Layers – 0.20 Support Z Distance – Cura Tree Supports
  • GST3D PLA+ @ 225C – Red, Silver
  • Great Cuts/Keys – Perfect Fit even at 60% to match recent Chibis

Conclusion For The Artillery Hornet Review

Artillery released their new entry level Hornet FDM printer with a mix of new and standard features. Some aspects of this combination may not appeal to veteran hobbyist at first glance. New users can take advantage of the easy assembly, bed leveling assist and easy-to-use bowden cable. Either group of owners will appreciate the high quality prints with nearly zero ghosting straight out of the box.

Modern features such as silent drivers, a 32 bit board, Marlin 2 based firmware, a dual gear extruder, on-screen leveling assist, a textured glass bed, a rigid frame, relatively quiet case fans and a stylish design bring the Hornet a few notches above a bare bone 3D printer. Acquiring a quiet budget printer that outputs smooth designs with minimal effort and no modification makes for a pleasant experience.

Although the Hornet has a few maintenance related quirks, there is only one feature that could have been added to it. While power resume is not always perfect, it is a useful feature when you are home and the power simply flickers. The absence of this modern attribute is a bit annoying. A simple remedy is using a separate UPS battery backup. If fact, I have several protecting my printers.

So if you are in the market for a new printer and want good prints fresh out of the box, consider purchasing an Artillery Hornet. Once you acquire one, come back here a check out the latest version of my Cura (and possibly other) profiles in Inov3D’s collective slicer article.

At this time, Artillery’s Hornet can be purchased directly from the Artillery3d.com website or on their official AliExpress store. While you are at it, check out Artillery’s official YouTube channel.

Additional Articles to Check Out:

Lynn’s article showcasing project ideas for Mothers Day
2be3dprinted’s review of the Anycubic Photon Mono
Robert’s test drive of the ItsLitho.com web-based lithophane generation
William brings the new about a collaberation between Bondtech and Slice Engineering, which brings the world the Creality DDX upgrade kit

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