Imade3D is an American education company using 3D printers for hands-on technology education. They launched their first kits in May 2016 and since then they got 4 Editor’s Choice Awards from Maker Magazine, won the category ‘Best For Schools’ and was rated between 10 best printers in Make Magazine’s 3D Printer Guide for 2017. I’ve tested the ‘JellyBOX Easy-Build‘ version and here are my thoughts on the device:
- Unbelievably easy to assemble.
- Packaged intuitively (very well labeled) to optimize assembly speed.
- All necessary items and tools come with the kit.
- Fantastic quality 3D printer parts.
- Easy to control
- The enclosure makes it safe to use
|Range of materials|
|Support / helpdesk|
The JellyBOX came in a surprisingly compact box. It was sturdily packaged in a cardboard exterior. The packaging was minimalistic so it’s fairly easy to unload. All the parts within are contained is a series of white boxes, each labelled for ease of identification. Moreover, the makers went out of their way to put lists of each part within each box, further simplifying the assembly process.
These lists will come in handy, so don’t misplace them because they can serve as an easy reference material.
Contents of the Box
- All JellyBOX 3D printed parts
- JellyBOX lasercut acrylic parts
- All electronics loaded with operating system
- Assembled main wire harness
- Pre-assembled and hot-end with E3D Lite6, Volcano upgrade
- Assembled X-Axis with Extruder carrige
- Assembled cold or heated bed
- Power supply
- USB cable
- SD card
- Online manual (full video; additional text)
- Precision Cutters
- Small Vice Grip
- Metric 1.5 2 2.5 Hex Keys with ball end
- Metric Imade3D custom wrench for M2, M3, M14 extruder nozzle and hex spacers
- Grease and blue lock liquid
- PLA filament
- Blue tape
High quality parts
One of the note-worthy aspects of the JellyBOX kit is that it has surprisingly high quality parts considering the price. For example it comes with a E3D Lite6 (Volcano upgrade) extruder and custom made machined ACME z-screws (with lower-than-common pitch). It uses combination of the Original E3D Lite6 heat sink and Volcano 0.4mm nozzle with their own designer (custom made) heating block – very narrow and with a heat element along nozzle. The result is a very low internal nozzle pressure allowing just 30mm Nema 17 direct drive and very forgiving behaviour to the filament temperature.
Another aspect that is worthy of note is the custom made filament gear. It consists of high quality, hardened steel. As a result, it has enhanced durability and is unlikely to wear out.
DIY Kit for education
The most appropriate classification for JellyBOX is: education. This, being their main focus, was apparent in the design and how the nuts and bolts are connected. The acrylic frame really cements its status as a teaching tool.
A lot of it is acrylic framing held together by zip ties and 3D printed corner locks. That’s not a knock on the device. The designers chose just the right places to incorporate these simpler structural aspects. In some respects, that makes things easier. Going back and correcting one of the assembly errors or making adjustment is much simpler, mostly by virtue of how inelegant yet easily replaceable zip ties and plastic parts can be. The educational aspect is also visible in the amount of work they put in the online guides & video tutorials.
Assembly is mostly very intuitive. The boxes are separated in such a way that you can run through them as per needed in order whilst following the instructions. The main tools used during assembly are the 3 hex keys, zip ties and occasionally a screw driver.
The various screws, rods and locknuts are all arranged in a partitioned box with labels on it. Occasionally, it can be difficult to identify the various similarly sized screws. I suppose colour coding their tops or their partitions would have made identification easier, but that’s a minor gripe as opposed to a disqualifying error. For the most part, it’s easy enough if you follow the online guide.
A lot of the parts came pre-assembled as well, making my job far easier. For example, a lot of the wires did not need arranging because they were in bundles beforehand. This must be a new change since some of these parts were quite different in the online guide.
Speaking of the online guide, there are 2 versions of it: one in video and another in text. I followed the text version for the most part but had to turn to the video one when I found it lacking in certain details. It’s possible that I missed certain parts of the text tutorial but it felt like there wasn’t an in-depth explanation of the wiring connections. I mostly did it out of intuition and turned to the video version on YouTube.
Another amendment I would personally make to the text tutorial is that the current version does not inform you that one of the wires belongs to an optional fan. It’s a small change but it would have saved me some time as we had to make absolutely sure that this was the wire. I ended up emailing Imade3D about this.
I also took an opportunity to test the customer service at Imade3D. I sent an email before the first test run, when I couldn’t confirm the second fan wire. Customer service was really good, overall. The reply came in very quickly and they assign someone to personally contact you so you can send them images or other attachments.
They respond rather quickly after they’ve trouble-shooted that possible issues that the user may have run into. All in all, it was a fairly helpful reference point.
Display, Control & Slicing
Display & Control
The display is the normal LCD 2-colour system that most DIY kits use. You control the JellyBOX with a 2 directional knob that you can rotate to move about the choices on the screen and press down to select an option. This is where you first have to home the X, Y and Z axes after assembling the bed. This will immediately let you know if there is a problem with the print process. Overall, the look of the display does its job even if it is slightly annoying to have to do everything with a single button.
Slicing objects is done via an open-source slicing software called Cura. This is great because Cura is extensively documented and it’s really easy to set-up Cura for JellyBOX.
Bonus tip: when I first set-up Cura 2.6.2 (macOS) for JellyBOX, the default filament diameter setting was 2.85mm instead of 1.75mm. This setting is crucial because slicing an object with the wrong filament diameter setting will cause the print to completely fail.
|Price||$990 (Easy Build Kit) or $940 (Maker’s Kit)|
|Print area||170 × 160 × 150 mm|
|Print bed||Non-heated aluminum (heated upgrade optional)|
|Filament Size||1.75mm (Although, the E3D titan enables the use of 2.85mm)|
|Open material system||Yes|
|Temperature Control||Yes, tool head (245°C max)|
|Print Untethered||Yes (SD card)|
|Host/slicer software||Cura JB Edition|
|Operating systems||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Maximum operating sound||71.1 decibel|
Print Quality & Materials
The JellyBOX works with PLA, PETG and PET, flexible filaments and carbon reinforced materials. These are all filaments that don’t require a heated bed. When you get the heated bed upgrade, Nylon and ABS are also optional.
The print quality is fantastic. The JellyBOX can manage super detailed prints, courtesy of the 20 micron resolution. Among the many brilliant things about the JellyBOX is the speed with which it can complete a print. The image above shows a print made on the fastest setting (300 micron). Even on this setting, the attention to detail is staggering and there are minimal abrasions, bumps and bruises.
A large part of the print quality obviously depends on how well the user has put together the printer. Although, with this kit, the dependence of quality on the user’s skill surprisingly lower than most other kits. It took a while to get a proper belt tension and adjust different axial variables that could affect the print. Ultimately, I was very pleased with the results.
When you’re done with the assembly you have to calibrate the machine to get good print results. Where this can be a real hassle with DIY kits that don’t have a auto-leveling sensor, the JellyBOX made this part really easy. For reference, check out their first layer height setup guide.
The JellyBOX is great value for money. It has the ability to be a reliable printer for educational purposes and also professional environments. Oftentimes it’s simplicity plays out as an advantage, like how easy it can be to go back, open it up once again to make adjustments. The overall design is great. Putting together the kit is quite straightforward. While the text tutorial can be a bit lacking, the video tutorial is great and customer service has a quick response time for requests.
The print quality is fantastic and has a surprisingly high resolution considering the price. The JellyBOX is a really good printer for educational purposes. In fact, Imade3D are using the JellyBOX to train teachers and students about additive manufacturing. It has the potential to be a great learning experience for newcomers who want to learn about the mechanics of 3D printing but also produce high quality prints.