With the RF100, electronics retailer Conrad has a cheap 3D printer for beginners. We have tested how the device performs in practice.
Even if the RF100 was relatively cheap at the time of testing, the current price of less than 200 euros is really tempting. Usually only 3D printers from China are available at this price. Anyone who prefers a product from German retail will get a very fair offer here.
The RF100 arrives neatly packaged and well protected at the customers. The massive frame is made of metal. Only the side panels are made of high-gloss, black plastic. The processing is surprisingly high for the price. All electronic components are located inside the housing. The lines leading to the printhead are covered with cable protection conduits. The device weighs around nine kilograms.
The structure of the printer is straightforward: two cable ties have to be removed, the guide tube for the filament has to be pushed into a holder and the filament holder has to be screwed on the back. This is followed by the calibration of the print bed and the insertion of the filament.
The print head of the RF100 hangs on the horizontal X-axis (left and right movement). This is connected to the Y axis on both sides (movement from front to back). The Z axis for height adjustment does not move the print head, but the movable print platform. The construction is torsion-resistant and very stable.
The glass print bed is not fixed to the printer, but is attached to the platform of the Z axis with three strong permanent magnets. Three knurled screws are available for calibrating the printing pad.
A multi-line display and a rotary button for control are attached to the front of the housing. The SD card slot is on the left side of the case.
scope of delivery
The printer comes with power and USB cables and an 8 GB SD memory card with 3D models and the slicing software Cura. Long tweezers help to clean the print head, several hex keys are in the package for maintenance. A spatula to remove the pressure from the print bed and a small side cutter to loosen the transport lock are also included. A 250 gram roll of polylactide filament (PLA) and several filament samples are also included. If you want, you can print with wood, metal, TPU and color change PLA.
The enclosed Cura software for Windows and Mac is easy to use compared to other programs. Nevertheless, it is advisable to read in the software.
Features: Almost free filament choice
The RF100 works with filaments from any manufacturer. As the print bed is not heated, the printer cannot process every available material. For example, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or nylon only adhere above a certain print bed temperature (overview of standard filaments, overview of exotic filaments). The printing of PLA or the enclosed wood or metal filament is possible without any problems.
Since the consumable is not pushed into the printhead, but is drawn in from there, the RF100 is also suitable for the rubber-like thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). An absolute advantage over other comparable printers.
The smallest possible layer thickness is 0.1 millimeters. The installation space – i.e. the space available for 3D printing – measures 12 × 12 × 12 centimeters. These dimensions are not suitable for large printouts. The size is still sufficient for numerous applications and to get started with the topic.
In the test, we use the included SD card to transfer the print data. If you want, you can also connect the printer directly to the computer via USB and start printing from there. A wireless connection via WLAN or Bluetooth is not available.
The integrated display and the rotary switch next to it are used for settings on the printer. This works absolutely exactly, unlike the counterpart of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Mini. The selection of the menu items is intuitive and unproblematic. However, the operation of the printer is still unnecessarily complicated: Compared to other printers, an extremely large number of steps are necessary, for example to load the filament or calibrate the print bed. Here we like the implementation of the software for the Davinci Mini w + (test report) or Duplicator i3 Mini (test report) much better.
The program is to prepare a print Cura included, a so-called slicing software. This divides digital 3D objects into individual layers and forwards to the RF100 the speed and temperature at which it should print. Cura is reliable and straightforward. Due to the widespread use of freeware, numerous tips and tricks can be found on the Internet.
The printer profile of the RF100 has already been created in Cura. It is therefore not necessary to configure the installation space, filament diameter or speeds yourself. Alternative programs, such as the commercial program Simplify3D, also works with the RF100.
However, slicing software is not suitable for creating 3D objects. To do this, users need an additional program. It is worth taking a look at the 3D software from Windows or the far more complex one Autodesk Fusion360,
The sample models on the included memory card work directly on the computer. If you want, you can start right away.
At the beginning, some software settings are required for the prints to work properly. In our test, the first printing attempts with the RF100 failed due to the lack of adhesion to the printing bed. This is a known problem, which we also had with the Duplicator i3 Mini: After several printed layers, the printed part begins to separate from the base. If you do not cancel the process now, you can watch the print head move the print part and continue printing in the air.
This problem should not occur at room temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. At least not if the print bed is correctly calibrated and all other settings in the slicing software are correct. Nevertheless, it is advisable to print the first print layer at a reduced speed and without component cooling. These measures improve liability and are purely a matter of recruitment.
If there are still adhesion problems, lubricating the print bed with a standard glue helps. Then the first print layer sticks and the print can be completed without any adhesion problems. Even if the distance between the nozzle and the print bed is not perfect.
The RF100 prints properly, but several tests are necessary in the test before the first object is of acceptable quality. The necessary corrections are temperature and speed adjustments in the settings of the slicing software. Instructions on the Internet explain which tricks are necessary for the various errors in the print image. A good An example with the most common printing errors and solutions can be found here,
Once the correct settings have been found, larger prints with a support structure and overhangs will work. The print results are then comparable to those of the Davinci Mini w + and the Duplicator i3 Mini.
Renkforce RF100 v2
Wood filament coconut
Stone filament cement
TPU – flexible filament
If you are looking for a cheap ready-to-use printer for beginners, you can do everything right with the RF100. In addition to the low price, the very good workmanship and the fact that the printer can even process flexible filament are particularly impressive.
While the Davinci Mini w + and Duplicator i3 Mini models do not require any reworking in terms of software settings, the Conrad printer only works after a long trial period. Controlling the printer using the dial button is not ideal, but it is logical and effective.
The main limitations of the RF100 are the limited installation space and the unheated print bed. For example, if you want to print ABS or PETG, you have to buy a printer with a heated print bed. If materials such as PLA, wood filament or flexible TPU are sufficient, you can strike.
Anyone who works with the RF100, despite the good hardware, must definitely deal with the topic of slicing software. Those who don't feel like it are better advised with the much cheaper Duplicator i3 Mini (test report). However, this cannot print a TPU without modifications. The same applies to the Davinci Mini w +, which works very well ex works. However, this is somewhat more expensive than the RF100 and only works with filament from the manufacturer xyzprinting.