A big upgrade for my 3D printing habit … a new model capable of printing in two colors or different materials at the same time. Amazon had the Sovol SV04 model I was looking for on Prime Day, which saved me bucks … quoting Martha, that’s a good thing.

All my older printers are restricted to a single filament at a time, and for 90% of my printing, it was enough. But as for more complicated prints that required dissolvable supports for the item I’m printing, a dual-filament printer (IDEX) is mandatory. Imagine the letter “U” upside down … you can’t print the curved portion when there is nothing underneath it, so a disposable scaffolding (supports) section is needed to hold it up in the middle. There are filaments used for supports that dissolve in water or chemicals, leaving a perfectly smooth area where they were previously attached. This is exactly how NASA built a missing wrench on the ISS for a mission that would have mandated a rocket launch to replace, by simply emailing them the build file. And yes, you can get that free file and print it at home with the Soval SV04. Think about that for a moment …

This unit also has auto bed-leveling, which is a blessing as it almost guarantees a level build surface. You can imagine how your build would look if it wasn’t. Imagine your residence built on a slant … you get the idea. It also protects the build in case the power goes off or you run out of filament mid-print. It will start again exactly where you left off. Normally, this means a print is headed for the garbage.

It’s definitely not a beginner’s model as there are literally almost an infinite number of settings that can be altered to tailor a perfect print. And when you’re a newbie, you absolutely don’t want/need this. But eventually as you get deeper into the skillset, you’ll need something more capable. Having owned several printers over the years, even I was taken aback by the number of options. One of the unique things of an IDEX printer is the ability to print two different (or identical things) simultaneously, or even print a mirror image.

You need to have the room for this particular model as it’s about a yard tall with filament rolls installed and therefore quite impossible to deny to my spouse I’ve gotten “another one.”  And the build bed needs around 30 inches of clearance for its fore & aft movement. Yes, it’s a big one …

Despite there being so many models of 3D printers, essentially almost all are based on just a couple of brands and this one is roughly based on “Creality’s” offerings. It has a few tweaks that I preferred and the reviews, including my unpaid one, are very positive. Very literally, it can hold its own against printers at three to four times more money. IMHO, I believe this one of the very best models in its segment.

Prints, after setup/calibration, are darn near perfect. It doesn’t seem to care about the material used (PLA, TPU, TPE, HIPS, ABS, PETG, WOOD, PC, PA, PVA, ASA), but if you’re looking for a chocolate printer, this isn’t it. Joking aside, if you need to print plastic-infused metals like copper/bronze/steel/brass/iron you either have to mod the Sovol or use a more specialized printer. At the very least you need to upgrade the heated nozzle to accept the abrasive metal filaments.        I’d recommend stainless steel, nickel-plated brass (better heat transfer), or other hardened alloys, since brass nozzles wear out much faster from abrasion.

I sincerely feel I’ve entered a new chapter in 3D printing with the Sovol. Prints that were simply not possible due to size/filament restrictions are now only a few yards of filament away …

I really don’t think the 15th Century polymath Johannes Gutenberg could have dreamed his mechanical ink printer would morph from printing ideas, to actual things.