Four weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending two days with Stratasys’ new Mojo 3D printer. My goal was to have an end-user experience, from unboxing the 3D printer to building parts. Throughout the process, I documented everything so that I could provide you a comprehensive review.
To have a true user experience, I rejected any assistance. No one joined me, so there was no one to monitor my progress or offer guidance. It was just a boxed Mojo and me.
Right off the bat, I will tell you that I really liked everything about this low-cost, personal-class 3D printer. For just $9,990, you will get everything you need to build and post-process parts. When I learned the price, I expected to find a cheaper version of Stratasys’ uPrint with sacrifices made to get the price down. I was wrong.
Mojo improves on Stratasys’ successful lineup of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) systems. They kept the bits that are proven and re-engineered everything else to deliver an easy-to-use, efficient and very capable 3D printer. If forced to come up with a sacrifice, it would be the 5 x 5 x 5-inch build envelope, but according to the company’s research, 80% of all prototypes fit in this volume.
As I exercised Mojo, an article by Scott Crump, CEO of Stratasys, kept going through my head. He stated that as price declines expectations rise. It’s counterintuitive but true that as prices fall, customers become less tolerant of problems, hassles, difficulties and failures. They demand a rock-solid, trouble-free product. Mojo meets this demand head-on, which is the one advantage that I enjoyed the most.
To show you how I reached these conclusions, and to let you come to your own, I will walk you through my entire Mojo experience.
Packaged like a 2D printer; just as easy to set up.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a newly purchased all-in-one (print, scan, fax and copy) printer. Now imagine the process of setting it up and printing a test page. That is the experience I had with Mojo.
It took me just 30 minutes to get Mojo printing the first part. In that time, I unboxed Mojo, set it up, installed software, learned how to use it, processed my file and launched my first build. The only tool I needed — a box cutter; the only help — an extra set of hands to lift Mojo from the box.
The entire process was simple and easy. I just followed the instruction manual, which also mimicked that of a 2D printer — clear, simple language with a picture for every step. What makes it so simple is that there is little that the new owner has to do. These actions are:
Print heads snaps in much like an inkjet cartridge.
- Unbox, place and remove packing materials.
- Install Print Engines:
- Drop in the material cartridge, snap in the print head and place feed tube in the sensor mount.
- Install a modeling base.
- Plug Mojo into a wall outlet and connect to the computer.
- Mojo even included a long USB cable.
- Load Print Wizard and Control Panel software.
Print Wizard — build preparation
Print Wizard interface - simple, clean and intuitive.
With the system ready to go, it was time to process my first part. I selected the Test Block from my previous benchmark study. But first, I had to learn how to use the file processing software, Print Wizard.
Actually, learn is a bit too harsh of a word. The interface is clean, simple and intuitive —so much so that the documentation is just nine pages long, and that includes thorough discussions on supporting and orienting parts. Even a casual user, someone that builds one part a month, will only need to reference the documentation once or twice.
What makes Print Wizard intuitive is that there are few user controls, and it does much of the heavy lifting. After importing an STL file, Print Wizard places the part and scales it if necessary. The only required actions are to select from three support styles and orient the part. There are also option for scaling and creating multiple copies.
Too much for one build? Software creates new jobs automatically.
What is really neat is that as parts are added, or sizes are changed, Print Wizard will automatically create new jobs when the parts exceed the build volume. The reverse is also true: It will eliminate jobs if size and quantity are reduced to fit. When there are multiple jobs, a single click on “Print” processes them all and sends them to the print queue.
Another nice feature is thumbnail views of STL files in Windows Explorer. Now you can select files based on what you see rather than what you read.
For my first part, it took just 30 seconds to select a part, import it and make my selections for support style and orientation. Nineteen seconds after clicking “Print,” the processed file was ready and waiting in the Control Panel queue.
Control Panel doesn’t need any instructions. Other than a “Print Jobs” button, everything on the screen is informational:
- How much material is available
- Jobs in the queue with details::
- Build size
- Estimated material consumption
- Estimated build time
To see the worst case, I intentionally started with a cold, powered-down Mojo. It took just 13 minutes to start printing: Three minutes to power up, initialize and perform diagnostics; ten minutes to warm up to operating temperature.
Undisturbed even with Mojo just inches away.
I discovered that Mojo is perfect for the office. There is no odor, and it doesn’t throw off any heat. But the most impressive thing was the quietness of operation. I sat just 18 inches from Mojo and was not distracted by the noise. My Canon 2D printer is much louder. Mojo was so quiet that someone came into my office and asked when I would start printing a part. I chuckled when I pointed to Mojo as I told him that is was building at that time.
My 2 x 2 x 2-inch Test Block built in five hours. In comparison, the same part built in five hours on uPrint and eight hours on a consumer-class 3D printer. But this isn’t a fair comparison. Mojo uses a solid fill style with 0.007-inch layers. uPrint and the other 3D printer used a sparse (semi-hollow) fill with 0.010-inch layers. In addition, the consumer printer couldn’t build a usable part.
WaveWash 55 removes soluble supports.
Next up in my process review was support removal. Like Dimension and Fortus, Mojo offers soluble supports. In Mojo’s bundled price, Stratasys includes WaveWash 55, which is an automatic support removal system.
WaveWash 55 is a compact unit that needs no plumbing connections. Simply plug it in, drop in an EcoWorks tablet, drop in the part, fill with tap water and press the start button. When the supports are gone, pour the solution down the drain and rinse off the part.
For the Test Block, I spent four minutes breaking away as much support as I could easily do. This helps to accelerate the WaveWash cycle, which took two hours.
Like Mojo, WaveWash55 is quiet, so you can put it in any convenient spot around the office.
First part off of Mojo.
My first part was perfect. For an out-of-the-box experience with a pre-release unit (i.e., still some tweaking and engineering to perform before going to market), that was impressive.
In terms of overall quality and appearance, Mojo’s output rivaled that of Dimension and the professional-class Fortus. All details were present, including very thin ribs and walls, and the surfaces were uniform and unblemished.
First part off of Mojo.
The most impressive engineering advance of Mojo is the Print Engine. For the same price as a comparable amount of Dimension material, the Print Engine gives you material and a disposable print head. In making the print head a consumable, Stratasys has removed the most common cause of poor part quality.
Contrary to what consumer-class 3D printers lead you to believe, the extrusion tips must be replaced at regular intervals. For Stratasys products, tip replacement isn’t a big deal, but it is the most often ignored item on the routine maintenance list.
Since every Print Engine comes with a new print head, which means a new tip, part quality is protected without any effort on the user’s part.
The disposable print head also plays a big factor in Mojo’s speed. It is lightweight, so it can travel much faster than a heavier head. It also heats up quicker, so the lag time between printing model material and support material drops to less than 15 seconds.
From all that I saw and all that I learned, I believe Stratasys will see great success with Mojo. I think it is perfect for small shops, small teams in big companies and as a desktop option in an operation with Dimension and Fortus 3D printers.