The Snapmaker 2.0 is the result of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns with over 7.8 million dollars raised and over 7000 backers. It is a 3-in-1 modular machine that allows you to laser engrave, 3D print, and to CNC carve. All you have to do is change the tool head and the bed of the machine. But how well does it actually work and is it worth its current price point of around 1500$?
As a whole, the Snapmaker 2.0 is a well build machine that can produce amazingly detailed 3D prints, decent quality laser engravings, and it can CNC carve anything softer than aluminum easily and accurately. However, Luban, the software for the Snapmaker, is really bad for generating g-code and it´s buggy.
The model I reviewed is the Snapmaker 2.0 A350T with its enclosure and it was sent to me by the good people at Snapmaker for free. This, however, did not influence this review in the slightest.
After testing the Snapmaker 2.0 for two weeks I can highly recommend it to anyone who doesn´t have much space in their workshop and need at least two of the three modules. But it is not a beginner-friendly machine because the default software (Luban) is not great for generating G-code, so alternative software like Cura slicer for 3D printing or Fusion 360 for CNC milling is needed to generate better G-code.
So the fatal flaw that I was talking about in the title is Luban.
And there are more modules on the way making the Snapmaker 2.0 probably the most versatile machine I have ever seen.
The detailed review where I explain exactly what I mean by buggy software is further down below but before we get to that, I will list the pros and cons as a quick overview.
Even though Luban is not the best software the Snapmaker 2.0 itself is an amazing machine and a capable 3-in-1 printer. You can check out all of its features in detail and its price on the official Snapmaker website right here.
The Pros and the Cons
|Built out of machined aluminum||Luban, the software for the Snapmaker, is buggy and generates bad g-code|
|The instructions are very good and easy to follow||Data can only be sent to the Snapmaker via Luban|
|The Assembly was easy and enjoyable||The WLAN connection to Luban doesn´t work reliably|
|The packaging is amazing||The regular laser module is not good for cutting materials|
|The 3D printer module has a direct extruder||Changing modules takes an annoyingly long time|
|Can 3D print PLA, ABS, Flexible filament, and more.||The enclosure has some bad design desition|
|Auto bed leveling||Cable management isn’t great, especially for the heated bed|
|Common shank diameter of 3.175 mm for the bits of the CNC module|
|Has a huge and active community|
|Beginner friendly to a point|
Testing the Snapmaker 2.0 A350T was quite some journey.
It started smoothly with assembling the machine but I quickly stumbled upon some issues with the machine that ended in a horrible failed 3D print that actually damaged the 3D printing module.
But in the end, I found out why I had such a hard time in the beginning and my final few test runs with the machine turned out really well.
Snapmaker 2.0 In-Depth Review
Now let´s take a closer look at the Snapmaker 2.0.
First of all, the assembly of the Snapmaker 2.0 was just amazingly easy and enjoyable.
Here is everything that comes with the Snapmaker 2.0.
The instructions come in a well-designed booklet with lots of colored illustrations in it.
The booklet shows how to assemble the machine and how to install and start working with each of the three modules.
All of the parts of the Snapmaker 2.0 are packaged in individual packages. The names of the module, as well as an image, are printed directly on the packages making it easy to find the next part that you need. Even the Screws are labeled and packaged individually.
Overall, the whole unpacking experience reminded me a lot of Apple.
All of the required tools for assembly are delivered with the machine in a toolbox. This toolbox can later also be used to store screws and tools that are needed for switching modules.
It took me around an hour to assemble the whole machine and another 45 minutes to assemble the enclosure.
Luban is by far the worst part of the Snapmaker 2.0.
It is the software that you have to use to send data to the device in order to print, engrave or mill your project.
You can connect the Snapmaker 2.0 with your Wifi and the machine will automatically update the firmware or a specific module when an update is available.
After that, you can connect your Snapmaker with your PC or Mac via Luban and Wifi.
But this doesn´t always work properly. In fact, connecting Luban with the Snapmaker only worked for me when I first turned on the Snapmaker and after it started up I started Luban on my PC. Otherwise, the Snapmaker simply wasn´t found in the software at all.
Working with Luban is sometimes a little frustrating and I eventually found out that the G-code generation is not the best.
Using Luban to slice 3D prints works decently but I was able to get the best prints by using the Cura slicer. Cura does have the Snapmaker as a printer in its database so you don´t have to create any custom printer settings for it.
The G-code generation for CNC milling is horrible in Luban. The settings are extremely limited inside Luban and the results were really bad in general. But the machine was able to produce very well results once I generated the G-code for milling in Fusion 360.
Luban is, however, quite good for preparing laser engraving and cutting jobs for the Snapmaker.
Overall, I only recommend using Luban for starting a job, for sending data to the Snapmaker, and for laser cutting and engraving.
Laser Cutting and Engraving With the Snapmaker 2.0
The first module that I tested was the laser cutting and engraving module.
This module was easily installed with four screws and the bed (each module has its own bed) was also easily installed with a couple of screws.
But you have to pay attention to the orientation of the four parts of the base or the holes for the screw won´t line up perfectly.
The Snapmaker comes with two pieces of wood for you to engrave or cut with the laser module. You will also get safety glasses to protect yourself from the class 4 laser. And you should wear those whenever the laser is on!
After that, I put one of the example wood pieces in the machine and fixed it in place with the silicone nobs just like the instructions showed me. The nobs aren´t that great for keeping the pieces that you want to cut in place but in my tests, it actually worked quite well.
The Snapmaker 2.0 can cut materials of 1.5 mm thickness with two passes and even 3 mm thick craft wood with four or five passes but the edges will be burned badly and might be uneven.
I only cut 1.5 mm thick craft wood during my tests.
Luban, the software for the Snapmaker 2.0, can engrave images or cut vector paths. The software gives you a lot of options to adjust the power and speed of the laser module.
There are also options to help you choose the method that you want the image to be engraved like black and white, grayscale, and so on.
It is also possible to adjust the detail and resolution at which the image will be engraved.
Before you can start a job you have to do two calibrations. One will set the right z-distance of the laser module by engraving a series of lines on a wooden surface. It will then choose the best line with the help of a camera that is on the bottom side of the module.
And the second calibration will cut a square in a piece of paper and then take multiple pictures of the piece of paper. It will then find the square and use it as a base to calibrate the perspective shift of the camera.
These calibrations have to be done every time you switch to the laser module.
The Snapmaker laser module has a camera on the bottom side that can be used to take a picture of the whole working area. Inside Luban, the image can then be placed at the right location on the piece that is supposed to be engraved and after pressing start the laser will actually engrave at the selected position with surprising accuracy.
But, this is also where I encountered the first issue with Luban. Using the camera to align your designs doesn´t work properly all of the time. If the design is a bit bigger then the laser will shift if it passes over the design multiple times.
This isn´t an issue if you are engraving but if you are cutting something with multiple passes then you will despair.
I was able to cut craft wood without any issues eventually after I stopped using the camera feature.
And Engraving works also very well and the quality of the engraving actually surprised me. This piece was done on medium quality in about 10 minutes on poplar wood.
As a whole, the laser module of the Snapmaker 2.0 is great if you aren´t using the camera feature to align the design for cutting. Engraving works really well and cutting craft wood with a thickness of 1.5 mm works really well too.
3D Printing With the Snapmaker 2.0
The next module that I tested was the 3D printing module.
This is where things really went wrong for me.
But first things first. I started by installing the printing bed and the printing module. Then the Snapmaker will auto-level the build plate by running the print head to nine points on the bed.
Once it is done the module will move to the center of the print bed and you have to use one of the calibrations cards, that come with the Snapmaker, to set the right z-height of the printer.
The Snapmaker will tell you exactly how this process is done and what you will need to do on the touch screen during the whole process.
The Snapmaker 2.0 comes with a full filament spool of black PLA so that you can start printing your first few projects right away and a calibration card is also in the toolbox.
Finally, I imported a 3D model into Luban, sliced it by choosing one of the presets, and then I started the print.
It failed the first two times after the first few layers were printed perfectly. I then leveled the print bed again and checked the whole assembly again to find if anything is wrong with the machine before starting the print again.
This time the machine printed perfectly for the first hour and I went to bed. In the morning I was greeted with this.
The print had failed so horribly that it actually completely destroyed the print head. I checked the G-code that Luban generated and found that it simply did not slice the model properly resulting in this failed print.
I completely disassembled the print head and cleaned everything. But unfortunately, the plastic part that redirects the cool air from the fan and that holds the sensor for auto-bed-leveling, as well as the sensor itself, was broken.
I was able to design and print a replacement for the plastic part. I installed the plastic part and reassembled the whole print head.
I then used Cura instead of Luban to slice the 3D model and this time it printed perfectly on the Snapmaker 2.0.
I had very little stringing and only a few very small holes in the finished print on ABS.
PLA printed almost perfectly with very little stringing and no wholes in the print. It’s probably one of the most high-quality prints I was able to produce and that only on the second highest quality setting.
I was able to print PLA, ABS, and flexible filament with the Snapmaker 2.0 without any issues.
The Snapmaker has a direct extruder allowing you to basically print any type of filament that you want.
There were a couple of things that I didn´t like. For example, the cable for the heated bed is a little short and could get caught on one of the linear rails that move the bed.
And if you are using the enclosure then the filament will be outside of the enclosure and it often got caught on the z-axis of the printer while moving into position.
In the end, the 3D printer module is amazing and you will be able to print very detailed models in any filament you want but you should not use Luban to slice your 3D models for printing. Instead, use Cura for slicing your models as it will give you better results.
CNC Milling With the Snapmaker 2.0
The last module I tested was the CNC carving module.
It was pretty easy, once again, to change the build plate and the module. Even though there are a little too many screws that need to be removed and then screwed down again each time a module is changed.
The Snapmaker once again comes with a small piece of acrylic for you to try the CNC milling module right away. You will also get safety glasses and well-designed clamps to fix your piece of wood or acrylic to the work surface.
Unfortunately, Luban has very little support for generating G-code for the CNC module. You can only choose to run the milling bit along a path or to carve out something in a very rudimentary pattern.
In both cases, the results are very weak as you can see here.
But if you generate your G-code in Fusion 360, for example, then you can achieve great results with the CNC milling module.
Fusion 360 is a more advanced program but it gives you a lot of different options for generating tool paths that Luban simply doesn´t have.
And I think Snapmaker knows that Luban isn´t the best program for CNC milling because they have a series of configs that can be downloaded on their official website for their party software like Fusion 360, FreeCad, ArtCAM, and so on.
So I downloaded the configs and used them to generate the G-code for milling a piece of wood. It was quite easy to set up and once imported to Luban the process was pretty straightforward and the finished product looked really well.
There were some issues on some of the edges, as you can see in the image, but those could easily be fixed by adjusting some settings in Fusion 360.
So in the end, the CNC milling module worked perfectly when generating the g-code in Fusion 360. You will be able to mill any kind of wood and it is even possible to mill aluminum on the Snapmaker 2.0 but it is not recommended as it might damage the bottom linear rails if you mill aluminum too often.
The Enclosure for the Snapmaker 2.0
The people over at the Snapmaker headquarters were nice enough to send me the Enclosure for the Snapmaker 2.0 for me to try as well.
The Enclosure is made out of aluminum and acrylic which makes the whole thing very sturdy and actually quite slick looking.
Assembly was, once again, very simple and fast and the instructions were, once again, in a well-made and great designed little booklet.
The enclosure can be plugged into the main control board of the Snapmaker 2.0. This will make it possible for you to control the LED light strips inside the enclosure and the fan.
The enclosure comes with a 120mm fan that will remove fine dust and smoke from the enclosure when you are using the laser or the CNC module.
But unfortunately the 120mm fan is quite weak for the size of the 350T enclosure and it will only remove smoke or dust very slowly.
The enclosure has two folding doors. One on the front and one on the side to make it easier for you to access the controller of the Snapmaker and to change modules easier.
The enclosure will protect your eyes from the laser module and it will also make it easier for you to print ABS because the enclosure will keep the heat inside.
Overall, I think the enclosure is a very nice addition to the Snapmaker and a must-have if you plan on using the laser or the CNC module a lot.