Geeetech E180 Review, Best Starter 3D Printer?

Introduction

Hello all, today I am going to be giving you the run down on the Geeetech E180.  I’ve had this printer for two weeks and I was able to print a significant amount of things on it.  This is the initial review, where I will break down what it was like to get it running, how it performed completely stock, and what I didn’t like.  I will continue to use this printer for awhile and really tune it and have a long term review in a month or so.  Also, as a full disclosure, I was sent this printer for free from Gearbest to review for you.  

**The newest iteration of the E180 will no longer feature built in Wi-Fi. I am leaving the review intact because this is how I received my unit.**

The Geeetech E180‘s Stats

The Geeetech E180 is a Cantilever style printer, this mean’s that the Z axis is only supporting the X axis on one side.  It has a print area of 130mm(X) by 130mm(Y) by 135mm(Z).

  It lacks a heated bed and doesn’t come with any Buildtak-type materials.. only blue tape.  The bed is held in place by 4 small spring loaded screws.  The bed rides on four V slot wheels and a V slot extrusion.

The X and Z axis both use smooth guide rods.  On the back side of the printer is a micro-SD slot, power port, and a USB port.

  The user interface is a XX touchscreen located on the lower front panel.  This is a mini desktop 3D printer born for printing PLA and other 3D materials that don’t require a heated bed.

What’s in the Box?

The Geeetech E180 comes fully assembled and well packaged in a two piece Styrofoam mold that keeps it from banging around.  It also comes with a 12V/8A power supply, some tools, a micro-SD card, an extra blue tape print surface, a paper manual, a small bit of filament, a spare nozzle module and a USB cable for tethering it to your computer.  It also comes with a very crappy spool holder that I quickly abandoned.

Setting it Up

After plugging this printer into a power outlet, as with almost every printer, you need to level the bed.  The Geeetech E180 has assisted bed leveling.  After starting the leveling process from the touch screen, the printer homes on the X,Y and Z axis. On the Geeetech E180, the Z axis home position is at the TOP of the Z axis.

  It then lowers the print head down towards the bed.  There are five pre-programmed leveling points that are available via the touch screen.

  There is also the option to lower the print head down into bed via the touch screen.  This is very similar to ‘Baby-Stepping’ the Z axis that is on some of the other printers I have used.  The leveling must be done be using an allen key to loosen or tighten the four bed screws.  I found the leveling to be pretty easy on such a small bed.

The included SD card comes with a few presliced prints, which are a dog and a strange little devil model.  The nozzle heats quickly and seems to hold it’s temperature well.  I’m not sure if this because of the special nozzle or some excellent PID tuning.

The Geeetech E180 also does a great job of not looking like a 3D printer.  It isn’t a huge hunk of scary looking metal with large fans and noisy stepper motors.  This is a smooth and quiet desktop machine.  All of the axis and fans have professional looking plastic covers on them.  The wires have braided loom covering them where they exit the body of the printer.  This really enhances the look and ‘wow’ factor.

 

The Prints!

The Geeetech E180 prints PLA great.  With it coming fully assembled out of the box, I wasn’t expecting much.  My first printer was a Monoprice Maker Select v2, that was shipped mostly assembled.  It’s first prints were not as good as the Geeetech E180’s.  Every model that I tried printing, came out looking great.

 The two pre-sliced files on the card came out good as well.  I used a combination of Cura 3.2.1 and Geeetech’s own Easy Print 3D slicer program.  The prints from the Easy Print 3D slicer were good.  My homemade Cura profile is also very good. Check out the gallery at the end of this article to check out all of my prints.

Innovative Features

There are a few interesting features about the Geeetech E180 that I think will help set it apart from other Cantilever style printers in this price range.

WiFi.. What?

First, is the built in WiFi.  This doesn’t give you a browser based print server, but it allows you to connect with the printer via their ‘EasyPrint 3D’ app.  Configuring the WiFi is a simple walk through process on both the printer and the EasyPrint 3D app to connect the Geeetech E180 to your 2.4GHZ wireless N network.  I find that this method is superior to just setting up port forwarding on an Octoprint server, because it is much safer than opening ports for the world to access your network.

Everyone Loves Apps!

Secondly, is the EasyPrint 3D app.  This allows you to check on the Geeetech E180’s status, start/end/pause print jobs remotely, and even create new print jobs.  The app also has a model database that you can use to slice models on the go and automatically print them while you are out.

An Affordable 3D Printer with Touchscreen!

The third feature is the touch screen.  This is a feature that I hope the rest of the manufacturers pick up on.  Offering a touch screen at this price point is just awesome.  The touch screen menus are clear and easy to use.  The interface is much easier to get around in than the typical Marlin control panels that I am used to.

Power Outage? No Problem!

The fourth thing is also something that I’ve never had in a 3D printer… power fail resume!  Yes folks, let’s say you are 18 hours into your 20 hour print and just for a second, the power fails.   All is not lost!  Just wait for power to come back and the Geeetech E180 will fire back up and ask you if you wish to resume your print.  Hit the ‘yes’ button and after the nozzle gets back up to temperature, you are back in business!

Quick Swap Nozzle!e180 nozzle

The fifth, and final thing that I am excited about with the Geeetech E180 is the nozzle.  This doesn’t use typical rep-rap style nozzles.  They use a special nozzle module that includes the heater, the nozzle and thermistor all in one easy to replace unit. 

Gone are the days of burning your fingers and breaking a wire accidentally trying to remove a filament jam.. it’s just a simple lever.  I think this will be a great feature for first time users.

The Negatives

I REALLY like the Geeetech E180.  As always there is always room for improvement.

Limited UI?

While the touch screen is swanky, the interface doesn’t allow a lot of the eeprom options that I am used to messing with.  These will hopefully be accessed through tethering to a computer and manually writing to the Geeetech E180‘s eeprom.  I haven’t tethered to this printer yet, so I can’t confirm this.  All of my printing has been from the micro-SD, but I plan on examining the firmware in the coming weeks.

Bad Leveling Instructions.. See what I did there?

I didn’t have any problems leveling the bed, but the Geeetech E180’s manual isn’t very helpful in getting this done.  If a new 3D printing user was trying to level this while using the manual, they would definitely struggle.  I’ve even seen some of the other reviewers incorrectly level the bed. 

The onscreen controls to lower the Z can not be different for each corner, it is a single value that is used across the bed.  You must use the bed screws in each corner.  They must also be adjusted from the top, instead of from the bottom, because the bed screws thread directly into the Y carriage.

Instructions? What Instructions?

The nozzle swaps aren’t covered anywhere in the manual.  Finding instructions online from Geeetech wasn’t happening either.  It was easy to figure out after looking at the hot-end assembly.  Also, since this is a proprietary design, there isn’t much in the way of options for the nozzle size.  You get the regular .4mm nozzle, and that’s it.

Blue Tape For Days

Although the blue tape works great, I tore it every time i had to remove a print.  Part of this is probably my fault for having my first layer too close to the Geeetech E180’s bed, but it still stinks.

More Lackluster Instructions and SD Improvements

Geeetech doesn’t include their slicer software on the micro-SD card, you have to download it.  If you go to their website and try and download it, there’s a little bit of a run around.  The ‘Download’ button actually takes you to the Geeetech forum and you have to access it through a forum posting.  Not the most user friendly experience.

Finally, if I am going to be picky.. having the micro SD slot on the back makes it a pain to access.

Conclusion

 

Overall I am really impressed with the Geeetech E180.  I was not expecting this kind of quality at this price point along with all of these features.  This would be a great first 3D printer for someone who isn’t into the technical side of the printers and just wants something that is going to work right out of the box.  Geeetech is offering a turnkey printer, with a pre-configured slicer and WiFi for a small sum of money. 

This would be a great printer to use in a school environment, the lack of heated bed, robust covers for the hot end and all the axis, along with the special nozzle make it difficult to pinch or burn a finger.  Most of my negatives could be fixed by simply making a better manual.  If you are an experienced user, you might find the lack of nozzle options and limited interface unappealing.

I am excited to really get inside of the printer and see what kind of board it has and to do a few little upgrades.  I can’t wait to start using this printer to make 3d printed hands.  Stay tuned in a few months for the next chapter in the Geeetech E180 saga.

Click here to snag my Cura profile for the Geeetech E180.

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