Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Review : Features, Price, Pros & Cons

10Expert Score
Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Review

A complete Review of Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus inlcuding Features, Price, Pros, Cons

Affordability
9
Community Support
9.5
Print Quality
8
Maintainance
2.5
Build Volume
8.5
Pros
  • Bang for the Buck in less than 500$
  • Good Community Support
Cons
  • Manual bed leveling
  • Extruder Workout
  • Temperature fluctuations

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Review: Overview

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus based on the Prusa i3 design is one of the smallest and most economical 3D printers available.

This all-metal 3D printer is suitable for both beginners and semi-professionals. One can get started using it by unpacking, and the machine requires no further assembly. 

Wanhao, the manufacturer, is from China and has been around since mid-2012. They have improved their supply chain over the years and started delivering on what the end-user considers a must-have 3D printer.

Though a knock-off of the more standard Prusa i3 MK3 3D printer, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus does not suffer in quality and is also light on your pocket.

There is no doubt that for someone who is into 3D printing, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a great addition to their collection.  

Though one of the cheapest budget 3D printers around, it does not lack in the build area. The heated print bed offers reliability and flexibility.  This certainly is more satisfying to work with.

One of the coolest facts about the Duplicator i3 Plus is that the machine can improve its performance with an upgrade. So much so, the Duplicator i3 plus can even outperform some high-end 3D printers available on the market.

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus offers enough for the novice in its standard configuration. Additionally, it can meet more complex and creative requirements with some enhancement.

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Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Features

Let us look at the core features of the Duplicator i3 Plus. Build and Design

The Duplicator i3 Plus has an all-metal frame as compared to other cheaper knock-offs of the Prusa i3 inspired 3D printers. This makes the 3D printer a more stable design and hence offers a smoother printing process resulting in fiber final prints.

This is one budget printer that does not compromise with the parts, unlike other cheaper plastic molded 3D printers. Everything fits in as per specifications and thus the end-user does not even need to assemble the final product.

More Bang for the Buck

The Duplicator i3 Plus has a very high-end appearance for the price. The 8′′ x 8′′ x 7′′ build area is greater than most other budget printers.

Additionally, the package includes a heated bed, a standard in more advanced 3D printing.

Control Display

An accessible knob and simple navigation screen help one get around.

MK10 Printer Extruder: This made-for-beginner extruder allows the owner to get started with 3D printing. And be more creative using a much larger selection of filaments, making the designs and the printed objects more intricate.

The salient feature of this printer is that it supports PLA, ABS, Stainless Steel, PVA, Nylon, NinjaFlex, Woodfill, HIPS, CopperFILL, LayBrick, MOLDLAY, BronzeFILL, Carbon Fiber, Conductive, Polyurethane and more.

As the 3D printer can use open-source software, this facilitates using the following add-ons:

  • Heated chamber
  • 2 Extruders 
  • Independent Dual Extruder (IDEX) 
  • More than 2 extruders (3+)
  • A Pellet extruder
  • Full color imaging
  • A Conveyor belt
  • Five-axis
  • Robotic arm and Hybrid builds
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Specifications

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus comes with the following standard specifications:

  • Filament Diameter : 1.75 mm
  • Filament Material : ABS, PLA, Nylon PVA, Wood, Luminescent, and PP
  • Extruders : Single-Extruder ( MK10)
  • Nozzle size : 0.4mm
  • Layer Resolution : 100 – 300 microns
  • Build Area : 8” x 8” x 7”
  • Build Volume : 200 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Print Speed : 100 mm/s
  • Weight (kg/lbs) : 10 kg / 22 lbs
  • Layer height : 100 microns (Minimum)
  • Print Technology : FDM/FFF
  • Printing Material : 10 Ft. of PLA / 2 PLA Rolls (Optional)
  • HotEnd Temperature : 240°C –  260°C (Short to Long term)
  • Cooling : 40mm Cooling Fan for Extruder, Drive Block and PSU
  • Build Surface : Heated Bed Plate with Adhesive Sheet
  • Compatible  Software : Open Source – CURA, Simplify 3D and MatterControl
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Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades

The Duplicator i3 3D printer offers a lot right out of the box, for precision and subtleties printing. The following upgrades can  enhance its performance further:

1. Better Printing Bed

An improvement in the alignment of the printing bed by using a glass bed can offer a more leveled flat surface when printing.  This will reduce any or all warped surfaces. The end result is much better fitting prints.

2. Thumb Wheels

By adding this to the design can help in the easier adjustment of the screws in leveling the bed between prints. 

3. Insulated Enclosure

To print with ABS filaments and have more creative designs, temperature control is essential. A  simple enclosure can be a useful upgrade to make this happen.

4. Axis Control

Improved x-axis and z-axis movement is necessary for better print quality.

5. Insulation

Get better insulation of the printing nozzle and insulated washers for bed springs. This can reduce or eliminate short circuiting of the heating plate.

Some other non-essential upgrades include remote control and monitoring using a webcam coupled with a  Raspberry Pi interface and the internet. 

Wanhao has also incorporated automatic software compensation in its latest model,  Duplicator i3 Plus V2.0. This offers automatic restart after a power interruption or uneven plate management. 

6. Improved cooling

For printing more complex parts, cooling of the machine is essential. Hence, a more improved cooling fan can be of great application here.

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Print Quality and Speed

With a 0.4 mm nozzle, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus can print 100-micron layers at a pace of 100 mm/s. This may not offer very smooth industrial-grade final prints such as those offered by more expensive 3D printers. The 3D printer is still good enough for prototyping and use by hobbyists.

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Print Quality
Credit: All3DP

The all-metal sturdy body frame coupled with a print head running on rods with linear bearings make the design simple and efficient. 

The design also offers decent quality. 

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Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus: Materials and Maintenance

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus prints with ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, and many other filament material types. The heated print bed makes it smoother for printing with ABS-type materials.

The touch-screen may impede installing an enclosed print chamber for smoother printing. Yet a fix is possible.

The extruder on this 3D printer has a temperature tolerance limit of 500°F (260 °C). Thus, it cannot print on high temperature filaments like ABS/PC, PEEK, carbon fiber, PEI, or glass fiber. 

The 1.75 mm filament on the 3D printer offers a wide variety of materials.  Printing a set of 3D-printed shelves out of PLA plastic with wood fibres in it, for example, gives it the appropriate rough look and feel.

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Maintenance

As in most other FDM printers, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus requires routine maintenance for its smooth functioning. These are as follows: 

  • Cleanliness – Use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean the bed to remove and stuck filaments and thus achieve consistent results.
  • Lubrication – Use silicone-based grease or other machine lubricants every few months to loosen up the lead screws. This can also smooth out rods and bearings.
  • PTFE Tube – Change this after every 100 hours of printing.  Otherwise, it will release toxic fumes around 245°C which is unhealthy for human beings. 
  • Nozzle – Once you start getting uneven prints, it is time to replace the nozzle or keep a spare on hand. 
  • Extruder – Over time, plastic parts like the extruder plate and arm will distort. For a longer shelf life, an upgrade to the micro-swiss plate and arm is recommended.
  • Extruder Gear – Remove the fan and clean off the filament debris. Switching to the D4 gear is also recommended. 
  • Belts – Install a belt tensioner to reduce the wear and tear that will happen with the belts over time. Additionally, remove the belt springs on the installation of a proper belt tensioner. 
  • Filament – Using an air-tight container or bag to keep the filament dry and away from sunlight is important.
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Build Volume and Models

The build area of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is 7.8 x 7.8 x 7.0 inches (200 x 200 x 180 mm) does not offer assembly of single-piece larger models. 

Print Larger models in parts and then joined using acetone (in case of ABS) or using glue (in case of PLA).  

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Price and Packing

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus costs roughly $399.00, which is a fair price given its capabilities. The following items are included in the packed box:

  • The 3D printer
  • A Power cable
  • Spool holder plus Spatula
  • USB cable and SD Card
  • Adhesive tape
  • Set of Hex key
  • Plastic spool
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i3 Plus Mods

The 3D printing community offers many creative and low-cost mods. Use these to get more out of your 3D printer and the Duplicator i3 plus machine is no exception here. You can get your hands on different quality mods from the online community such as the following one.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfPNuf3jOYw

In this video, the creator shows a Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus mod for making and installing spring cups. This is to improve the stability of the built plate and to replace the stock thumbscrews provided in the box to better custom thumbscrews. 

The Duplicator i3 Plus comes fitted with a 3mm nylock nut under the heat plate as standard for holding the screw on and isolation washer in place. The spring cups are positioned around the outside of this nut. The creator redesigned the Top Cup to fit around the nut but still capture the lip of the spring within the seat of the cup.

Thus one has to print 4 upper cups and 4 of the original cups by Antscran to create a full spring cage to make it work perfectly.

In another mod, the creator uses a custom plug-in (Change Filament at Z Cura Plug-in –  https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2077884 ) to pause the printer. This is useful when printing construction toys that make use of magnets. Here the printer is paused for inserting the magnet.

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The Pros & Cons

Pros of the Duplicator i3

Bang for the Buck – For less than US $500, this 3D Printer is worth every dollar you spend. The build quality, the self-assembled out-of-the-box unpacking, and the upgrade options all make it worth buying. The Wanhao also looks and feels like a high-end 3D printer.

Community – The online 3D community that supports the Duplicator i3 is huge. It is a breeze to locate a worn-out part or develop unique models or share your own with others. There are enough support pages and help both on Wiki and social media for you to get around using this 3D printer to the max.    

Cons of the Duplicator i3

Following are some of the stuff that can be a turn off for purchasing the printer. 

Manual bed leveling: The absence of an auto-leveling bed is missed and something that advanced 3D printer users have become accustomed to. 

Extruder Workout – Using the extruder takes some practice especially when changing the filament.  

Temperature fluctuations – This is a worry that the machine exhibits more than the usual temperature fluctuation. 

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