Having never owned a Delta 3D Printer before, I was not sure what to expect from the BIQU Magician. While the machine design looked quite solid, I am rather preferential to Cartesian printers with a large build volume. Impressed by several of the more unique features though, especially at the low price point, it is definitely an interesting new addition to the budget market.
When a mutual contact recommended my website to BIQU, they agreed to send a production unit at no charge, providing me with the chance to check it out and write a review. Despite some reservations, I took the opportunity to see what this little machine was capable of and if it was worth consideration. Should it turn out to be a complete flop, I figured I could at least warn others to look elsewhere. Thankfully that was not the case and this is actually an excellent 3D Printer despite some noticeable flaws.
Over the course of the review, I will look at the pros and cons to give you an idea of what can be expected. When emphasizing the problems, I intend to provide this as feedback to BIQU, which should encourage further improvements to an otherwise very solid product.
|Ease of Use:|
As the BIQU Magician comes fully assembled, the additional parts consist of tools, cables and accessories. The package contents are standard items included with most 3D Printers, but the 250G roll of filament is a nice touch. This provides plenty of material to get started without the need to place a separate order. The spare hotend parts are also a welcomed addition, providing (2) extra 0.4mm nozzles and (1) extra heatbreak should the need arise.
The most impressive item in the package however is the Instruction Manual. I’ve purchased many 3D Printers from Chinese manufacturers and the documentation has been nothing short of terrible. They often range from no instructions at all to a sheet of paper with a few pictures. The Magician in comparison comes with a detailed 28 page guide, covering everything from how to use the Cura software to the steps for Auto Bed Leveling. It even has 4 pages of FAQ at the end which provides answers the most common problems. Unfortunately the text is littered with misspelled words, but it is easily understandable and accompanied by color photos to help explain various points.
BIQU Magician Instruction Manual (PDF)
As a minor complaint, my package had a European power cable included despite being shipped to the United States. Since this is however easily replaced with any spare power cable and no order was officially made online, I doubt this is a common occurrence and likely just a mistake given the circumstances.
- 3D Printer Unit
- 250G PLA Filament
- Filament Spool Holder
- Auto Leveling Sensor
- (4) Sensor Pads
- USB Cable
- SD Card & Card Reader
- Power Cable
- Power Adapter
- (2) 0.4mm Nozzles
- (1) Heatbreak
- Putty Knife
- (4) Hex Wrenches
- Instruction Manual
As mentioned before, the BIQU Magician arrives pre-built and is ready to use. While this is a much appreciated convenience, it does raise some concerns about the potential for damage. Shipping carriers toss packages around like trash bags, which inevitably results in broken 3D Printers being delivered all the time (even more so when they are pre-assembled). I would like to commend BIQU on this point, where they have pulled out all the stops when it comes to packaging the machine well. Using everything from custom fit styrofoam to saran wrapping the components in place, it would take nothing short of a sledgehammer to damage the contents. It is even packaged inside of a very attractive box, one of many small but noticeable bits that set this apart from the rest.
Before you can get started though, there are two things that must be done first. The Spool Holder will mount to the top of the machine, where it feeds into the extruder motor on the side. The spool holder is secured in place using a bolt and spacer that threads into the center of the electronics compartment. Second, the Auto Bed Leveling Sensor must be connected and ran to properly calibrate the machine. This process is covered in both the Instruction Manual and the Auto Bed Leveling video, both of which explain the steps in great detail to avoid issues.
The BIQU Magician includes a modified version of Cura 2.6.2 on the SD Card, pre-loaded with the 3D Printer profile and ready to use. For those using a later release of Cura, a standalone profile is also included that can be imported into the software. While the default settings offer a great starting point that is capable of producing solid results, these can (and should) be tweaked and tuned to further improve prints. The most notable of which is the print speed, where the default of 60 mm/s seems to have a high chance of causing layer shifts. While this points to a potential hardware limitation, lowering this value to 40 mm/s seems to prevent such problems.
This is where the Magician most visibly stands out against its competitors. Being one of the first sub $200 3D Printers to make use of a 32-bit control board, it is definitely quite capable. Delta machines require more processing power to drive complex calculations during operation, where the limitations of an 8-bit controller would hamper the performance. Taken directly from their website, this particular board is compatible with Smoothieware and Marlin firmware, supports power outage recovery and filament runout detection, and has automatic shutdown on print completion. It also has13 point Auto Bed Leveling with a removable sensor that can be unplugged once the leveling process is complete.
As a compliment to the board, the BIQU Magician also features an absolutely gorgeous 32-bit LCD screen. I’ve personally never seen anything comparable on other 3D Printers, where the touch screen interface, vibrant colors and simple menu options make for a pleasurable experience. Certain options such as the ability to change print speed and fan speed in real time are quite nice to have as well. Even though nothing feels advanced in terms of menu settings, I’ve yet to feel that any necessary options were missing from the interface.
While I can find relatively little information on the individual parts, my understanding is that both the board and screen are manufactured by Bigtree-Tech, one of the many 3D Printing companies based in Shenzhen, China that sell via Aliexpress. This brand name is printed on the Magician’s Instruction Manual so I assume BIQU is likely a subsidiary of BTT.
The BIQU Magician uses an inverse design which is quite rare among Delta 3D Printers. In contrast to similar machines, the electronics compartment is located on top of the frame, where this is more commonly placed under the build plate instead. My initial expectation was that this would impact the performance and print quality, a direct result of the design being top heavy. Although I have not entirely ruled this out as being the case, especially at faster speeds, I have found no indication that this is problematic. On the contrary, the frame is actually quite stable, thanks in part to the relatively small printer size and two smooth rods in each of the three corners.
Using a Bowden setup, it features both a Titan clone extruder and a V6 clone hotend, encompassed inside of a Fullbody Effector. This has (3) 30mm fans with one for extruder cooling and two for parts cooling. The Effector has a 180° shroud to further improve parts cooling while maintaining print visibility, although it does struggle with the underside of overhangs. This is certainly not unexpected though as it is a very common issue with FDM machines, the print results are nothing short of amazing right out of the box.
The NEMA steppers do however seem to limit the print speed, where these appear to be small 20-24mm long body motors. As they are low torque, driving a full size effector seems to cause missed steps when printing at faster speeds. This does not play very well with the recommendation of 60 mm/s, where I found 40 mm/s seems to be the maximum without concern for failure. I don’t consider this to be a con but rather a limitation of the electronics.
While I am beyond impressed with many aspects of the machine, the filament spool holder is absolutely atrocious. Budget 3D Printers usually have less than ideal spool solutions, however it proves to be especially problematic when taking into account the way the machine’s designed. Within minutes of starting my first print, I noticed the spool holder does not stay attached at all. Tightened too much, it is unable to spin and feed. Left loose, it comes unscrewed and falls off of the machine. To make matters worse, it only seems to support small (250G) filament spools, standard spools do not fit as they are blocked by the extruder motor. Thankfully I previously built an Ikea Lack enclosure with a spool holder on top, otherwise this would be nearly unusable since the filament feeds from above. Without an enclosure or wall mounted spool holder, I am not sure there is any other solution to this problem in the current state.
Despite several noticeable flaws in the design, this is otherwise an exceptional 3D Printer at a budget friendly price point. While certain features such as a heated bed would be nice to have, it is by no means a deal breaker. It is a shame however that with such an innovative design, the spool holder of all things is so poorly done.
Although I had no interest in Delta 3D Printers prior to this review, I am extremely impressed by the results the BIQU Magician is capable of. Since the small build volume has size limitations, yet handles fine detail with ease, I believe this is among one the best budget 3D printers for those interested in creating figurines, busts and detailed models. Taking into account the low cost, easy to use interface and exceptional Instruction Manual, it is also a fantastic option for those looking to pickup a first 3D Printer (provided you can Macgyver a better spool mounting solution until a fix is released).
As this was just released recently, I hope they will address the few outstanding issues, where this has the potential to be the best 3D Printer under $200. I would not mind seeing an upgraded model made available as well, where the addition of a heated bed, larger motors and wifi access would push this to the forefront of the budget tier. Since the Monoprice Mini Delta will be the closest competitor, these features could be the deciding factor for many buyers that are on the fence.
- Excellent Print Quality
- 32 Bit Control Board
- 32 Bit LCD Screen
- Auto Bed Leveling
- Titan Extruder (clone)
- V6 Hotend (clone)
- No Heated Bed
- Bad Spool Holder Design
- No WIFI Access