This is a story about dipping a toe into the new technology. Unfortunately, it resulted in just sore toes.

While exploring 3D printers at the 2015 CES, I came across Polar3D. Made in the U.S. (they claim) and having a very novel method of moving the platform on the X&Z axis instead of the head jerking to and fro. The extruder still worked on the Y axis (up and down). It has a full metal body, which is really rare at the price point of $800 ($600 for students).

However, turn it over and the magic disappears. The entire precision mechanism for the X&Z axis is out of plastic. You don’t have to be an engineering genius to figure out what will happen after a bit of use.

Now the fun begins … Paid for in full, no product for over a month with absolutely no contact about when I could expect it. (this was a harbinger of things to come I realize now). Only after countless calls/emails and apologies did it finally show. Setup wasn’t really all that hard and I had a test guitar pick in just a few minutes. What differentiates this unit from the mainstream units is the ability to control it via the Polar3D website. That decision was disastrous. The web site is so riddled with problems that I’d have to devote an entire page to it’s woes. More calls to Polar, problems persist … soon it begins leaking molten plastic around the extruder. They say tighten it. But more than a fraction of an inch breaks the wires to the heating elements. They apologize & say a “few” units got out without being tightened. The screaming of the moving metal pieces is really irritating me now.      I grab white lithium grease. They say a “few” units got out without being lubed. Now, the leaking is out of control … a call to Polar & I’m told they’ll get a new unit to me ASAP. Two weeks later, I call and find they forgot to send it as it was sitting “behind a door”. More apologies. New unit arrives … screaming metal moving pieces again. I lube the wear prone plastic gears too. The drive screw for the Y axis (and this is not a joke) was connected by a plastic tube reministic of a “Home Depot” plumbing part to the stepper motor. Every day the printer had some issue. While this is still a relatively new technology, I was dumbfounded at the basic mistakes made at almost every turn by Polar3D. I’d call them and explain what new problem I found and they would claim it must be “user error” as no one else was having these issues.  I can only assume they don’t read their own support comments. Literally every issue I was having seemed to plague others. Eventually after another firmware update, the printer decided that it would only print from the extreme edge of the platform.

Wouldn’t be a problem except the head is now ramming into the platform and refuses to print in the center, no matter what is done. A call to Polar and they say a “few” of the units have this issue. At this point I’ve had as much “fun” with the Polar3D experience as I could and ask for a refund. They agree … if I pay for the return. A poster child for lousy customer service. I burn rubber for the UPS store.      I have no clue why I thought they would be different when it came to the refund. Sure enough, over two weeks later and no refund … another phone call. Polar3D is the gift that just keeps giving.

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