Nowadays, there are hundreds of desktop FFF 3D printers available at affordable prices. They all look relatively similar and boast pretty much the same technical specifications like layer thickness, build volume, and nozzle diameter.
Consumer 3D printers also often feature a filament detector, automatic or assisted bed leveling, touchscreens, and other functionalities that have become standard over the past few years.
To stand out from the rest, manufacturers now have to think of bringing more value to consumers while getting a bit more creative than a ten or twenty-dollar price drop.
That’s exactly what Aster has in mind, offering an intuitive and user-friendly cloud 3D printing solution to work with their affordable 3D printers.
Aster Cloud: one-stop 3D printing solution for hobbyists
The Aster Cloud is Aster’s one-stop solution to access personal or public 3D models, slice them, and 3D print them on the fly from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Wi-Fi connectivity on a 3D printer is definitely welcome, sparing you the hassle of having to copy your 3D model onto a USB key or SD card before inserting it into your printer.
For the first few prints, that process is fine, but once you start needing to tweak your settings after a few fails, it can quickly become tiring (especially if you’re trying to figure out why your print doesn’t stick to the bed!).
Aster’s Cloud app makes it much easier to quickly launch new prints with its automatic slicer, and you can reprint anything you’d like thanks to the app’s cloud-based storage.
You can even launch prints remotely, whether you’re at the office or anywhere else. This can be useful if, for example, you’re on a trip and need a specific part to be ready as soon as you get home.
Aster’s smart 3D printing lineup
Aster markets several smart 3D printers, including the Aster A1, as well as a cloud-enabling motherboard to install on almost any other third-party 3D printer.
In addition to its cloud connectivity and automatic slicing and model management capabilities, the A1 hosts a range of other user-friendly features that make it suitable for use at home and/or for beginners.
This desktop 3D printer boasts fully automatic bed leveling; the system rechecks the print bed’s level before and during each 3D print, auto-compensating any potential unlevelness.
It is also equipped with an electromagnetic smart door lock which prevents users (such as kids) from opening the printer while it is still in operation or until it has cooled down sufficiently.
In terms of noise, Aster has developed its own mechanical system and paired it with an ultra-silent proprietary motherboard to effectively reduce noise during operation and to improve overall print quality.
Last but not least, the Aster A1 bears Aster’s unique printhead design which is based on a patented Chinese invention. Aster claims that this innovative design prevents the nozzle from clogging, after having allegedly tested the system for over 10,000 hours.
Below are some of the printer’s main specifications:
|Build size||210 x 210 x 260 mm|
|Printing material||PLA, 1.75 mm|
|Min. layer thickness||0.1 mm|
|Max. nozzle temperature||230°C|
The Aster E3, priced at $48, is an affordable upgrade for those that already have a 3D printer (namely the Ender E3 or any of its versions) at home but without Wi-Fi connectivity.
Indeed, the E3 mainboard enables any 3D printer to connect to Aster’s Cloud 3D printing system and still lets users load files with a USB key via the printer’s original screen.
But added connectivity isn’t the only thing that this motherboard has in store! Let’s take a look at some of its main features:
- Dual 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 CPUs for up to 50% more precision and for better global performance
- Easy DIY setup without firmware installation or complicated parameters
- Supports mainstream BL Touch auto-leveling and filament detectors, as well as LED lighting
- Intelligent temperature control to reduce fan noise and optimize nozzle heating