The Hictop D3 Hero is definitely not your ordinary 3D printer. It’s an IDEX printer which means it has independent dual extruders. This has some advantages to other systems that advertise multi colour or multi material. Having two independent hot ends and extruders lets you maintain different temperatures simultaneously making it easier for filaments which have different requirements.
Everything was very well packaged from Hictop and nothing arrived damaged at all. The foam padding was definitely adequate and all the parts fit snugly in place. There were some small sample filament spools of filament included too. One of the first things you notice is that linear rail for the X axis which is not typical.
Assembling the Hictop D3 Hero was straight forward. The instructions were provided on the included SD card and it was easy to follow them. It was approximately 1 hour from unboxing to a ready to print printer.
The upper assembly screws into the base assembly with the provided screws and then you need to add the hot end assemblies onto the carriages. The electrical connectors are very easy to snap together and get everything up and running.
My curiosity couldn’t be helped and I wanted to see what the internals looked like in the base assembly. I was pleasantly surprised to see it pretty clean and organized in there with some cable management. I was happy to see the Mean Well PSU as advertised.
My first impressions of the printer were that it is quite nice. The power supply is Mean Well as noted above which is a great upgrade over the cheap PSUs I’ve seen on countless 3D printers. I also really liked that they design the power input in the back of the printer but the power switch is on the right side which makes it easier to power on and off.
The X axis is a linear rail and it came lubricated with some thicker grease. The Hictop D3 Hero X carriages move easily left to right. To adjust the belt tension, you need to remove the cover of the x axis stepper motors and then you can raise and lower them in mounting slots. The Y axis is made up of two individual aluminum extrusions which adds some stability. The direct drive extruders will help printing materials such as flexibles too. It’s touchscreen is responsive and the menu option are easy to navigate.
I followed to instructions to level the printer. The P2 hot end was actually setup right from the factory. I used a Simplify3D profile for my D3 and I had to make sure the X2 and Y2 offsets were set up correctly as per the instructions. This took a little effort and “on the fly” adjusting while its printing to get it correct. Once I believed I had it setup right I went ahead and printed some dual colour prints.
The first was the Skully 2 colour skull which came out good. It was printed with grey Anycubic filament and silk green Geeetech filament. I felt my Y2 offset seemed a little off and made an adjustment again using a dual colour cube test model I found on Thingiverse before moving on to the dual colour Phil-a-ment.
I think the dual colour Phil-a-ment came out really good for my 2nd print using the same filament. There was some strings attached from the nozzles being parked and sitting waiting for the other one to finish. I just recently printed some purge buckets I found online and I plan to use some brush heads to wipe the nozzle before it begins printing. I think this will allow it to print without the strings I had.
All in all the prints are turning out as good as my other printers with the added bonus of being IDEX.
Once I had a baseline of a couple prints I noticed there was some stringing that was caused by a park hotend. I found some purge buckets that were designed by a member in the Hictop Duale 3 Users group. The buckets were designed for some rotary brushes but I cut out the mount and glued in some rectangular brush heads I had.
Two Colour Fun
With the purge buckets mounted I went to town on trying a variety of prints. I used a variety of PLA filaments including some silks. They all came out well. I was really impressed with the orange and white dual colour Rook print. The helix inside came out out great just as did the white lettering.
I proceeded to try a couple more prints including the dual colour Aria the Dragon which was taller than some of my other prints. This came out great. There were a couple specks of black in the red podium that shouldn’t have been there but I think with some more fine tuning this can be avoided.
There’s a bunch of active community members at the Hictop 3D Printer User Group and the Hictop Duale 3 User Group. Most importantly, I’ve found the members to be fairly helpful. While not a huge community yet, it does continue to grow.
The Hictop D3 Hero has been exceeding my expectations as a lower cost alternative IDEX 3D printer. Above all, the quality of the components feel good and I think the 3D printer will last. Using a linear rail and bearing assbly on the X axis providing stability for the independent assemblies is great. I don’t expect to have power issues with the upgraded Mean Well PSU. Hictop posted the firmware files in the Facebook groups as well so that will allow the user community to make any adjustments if required. I’m happy with the results I’ve been getting and I can’t wait to experiment with different materials such as PVA for soluble supports. It’s nice to see Hictops take on something new for the market.