The Fischertechnik 536624 is a 3D printer that’s available in the German educational toy market. This printer is a product of the renowned German high-tech company, Fischertechnik, which is famous for original wall plugs used in many households.
Fischertechnik brand initially concentrated on mechanical building blocks. Today, it has expanded to include programmable robot components, kinematics, electronics and 3D printers.
The 3D printer has come as a surprise to many people given that the company has long focused on downsized, educational and simplified versions of industrial machines. Read our Fischertechnik 3D printer review to find out its features, specs and quality of prints.
Assembling the Fischertechnik 3D Printer
This printer is simply known as the Fischertechnik 3D Printer. If you worked with MendelMax before, you can easily confuse the Fischertechnik printer with it. The printer also looks like a classic moving bed that has a vertical truss supporting the Z and X axis.
The German 3D printer measures115mm x 100mm x 80mm tall. However, the software that is shipped with it is set to 65mm high. Except for a few special parts that are basic to 3D printers, most components used to build this printer are by Fischertechnik. There are a total of 890 parts, which include profiles, pins and blocks. All the parts go on all the six sides that you will need to assemble to use the printer.
Many of the printer’s parts resemble each other. Therefore, assembling them perfectly calls for a high level of concentration to avoid mixing them up. The printer is shipped with a manual to help you with the assembly. However, the manual is not very clear. If you’re not careful, you might think you have placed a certain piece in the correct part only to realize you put a wrong or have missed a mounting point somewhere in the process. Assembling the printer is a bit more complex than simply placing pieces onto aluminum rails.
You are likely to spend a considerable amount of time assembling the machine. However, in the end, you will be happy with its performance. During assembly, don’t forget to put the spool holder, a separate piece that attaches onto the back of the machine and can include both full-size spools and filament sample.
About The Hardware
The Fischertechnik 3D printer hardware comprises of a PEEK-based Bowden hotend. Neither the hot end nor the part you’re printing have a cooling fan.
The printer has a simple direct-drive extruder and a print bed that’s just a piece of acrylic with some BuildTak on top. The Printbed is not heated at all and there is no sensor to alert you of that or a mechanism for adjusting it.
Mechanically, there are plastic leadscrews (single segments organized into 4mm steel rod) which drive the printer’s axis. The leadscrews are in unison with the Fischertechnik nutular buildings, just like regular building blocks. This compensates for the low-backlash motion system. There is also a motor belt with 132 individual elements that connect to both sides of the printer on the Z-axis. You will have to assemble the132 elements.
The rod used to make the leadscrews core is 4mm. This rod is essentially what runs both the Y and Z axis. The X axis on the other hand is directly run on the aluminum profiles and a huge amount of silicon grease is used for lubrication.
The Fischertechnik printer’s mechanical system is overrated, in our opinion. It simply looks like wooden Printboards, except for the inclusion of the non-plastic connecting parts with dovetail connections relying on friction for a perfect fit. There are definitely more mechanically organized 3D printers in the market than this one.
We feel that one single 3D-printed part or customized part could have efficiently replaced most of the parts that have to be assembled with over 20 individual bits. But perhaps this would have made the machine less interesting and purposeful.
Electronically, the Fischertechnik printer only has basic features; a heater, a thermistor for the hot end, motors, and mechanical end stops.
Both the Z-end stop and the linear motion use the same type of leadscrew and a jam nut that keep them in a fixed position. However, this arrangement is unreliable, especially when trying to get a perfect nozzle height for the first layer. Expect more frustration given that the leadscrews consist of individual segments and therefore any extreme pressure on the jam nut will dismantle them.
The Printboard used in this 3D printer is interesting but also a letdown. While the Printboard is designed to allow adding an LCD screen, an SD card slot, a heated bed, and other features found in modern printers, the manufacturer has not taken advantage of this aspect.
Technical aspects aside, how does the Fischertechnik 3D printer perform? We were not over impressed by the performance of this printer inasmuch as it met our expectations.
To begin, the printer doesn’t have a part cooling fan and is exclusively made for PLA printing. PLA is infamous for curling, especially on blobbing, and overhang when printing fine details. Also, the motion system is not rigid or accurate. Therefore, you may end up with inconsistent prints. This may mean having to re-fit mechanical mates multiple times.
With the competition in print quality of modern 3D printers, the Fischertechnik struggles to keep up. It has a moderate chance of getting a good print. With some luck, you may actually get some serviceable prints. However, the quality will still disappoint you.
This printer only has a single print profile i.e. the Fischertechnik-branded Repetier host software. However, you can create your specific profiles for Cura slicers or Slic3r.
The biggest challenge in using this printer is getting prints out of the Printbed. The bed is not flat, even if you re-assemble it strategically and carefully through following the manual. In fact, you may end up with a bed that’s more warped if you follow the manual, which indicates you should clip the acrylic sheet on to the bed platform. The bed platform uses imperfectly flat plates and is therefore causes problem. However, parts tend to stick well to the BuildTak sheet despite the irregularity of the bed.
If you modify the print bed and prop up the build surface with gears as a shim between the bed and acrylic instead of the washers on top, it will be much flatter. However, it will still be warped to the point that the nozzle digs into the surface in the center if you want some parts to sticking at the corners of the build volume.
This will therefore force you to print larger parts with a raft, something that’s essentially been passed by time. In fact, many aspects of the performance and features of this machine are outdated.
Overall, the Fischertechnik 3D printer is a low-performing, outdated and has basic features. At the current price (check price at Amazon), the machine is too expensive for its features. There are better 3D printers in the market.
One of the better quality 3D printers you can get by adding just a few extra bucks is the Original Prusa i3 MK2, (made in Europe) which has undisputable performance. You could also get the Printrbot Play, which is made in USA. The Printrbot produces many fine prints than the Fischertechnik printer, is more robust, fun to build and use and is much faster. If you have to go so low, you could settle for the Turnigy Fabricator Mini from the Far East, but still a far better printer than the Fischertechnik option.
Open Source License: Has This Printer Breached This?
Specific parts of the Fischertechnik 3D printer are from German RepRap NEO. This is not an official RepRap sub-brand and has since been discontinued. The Printboard used is a clone with Open Hardware License as Creative Commons share-alike. This is what German RepRap NEO supplied Fischertechnik with. Also, the entire machine is driven by the Reptier Firmware that’s covered on open-source-software GPL license.
We checked the source-code shared, the schematics and the open-source components used. There was no hint of published design files and source code for the components. This not only means that Fischertechnik breached the license; it also limits the adjustments you can make on the firmware if you wanted to modify the printer.
While assembling the Fischertechnik 3D printer and trying it out, we were disappointed…or felt deceived. Our expectations of the printer may have been too high, perhaps because we had pre-set in our mind that the Fischertechnik kit is an educational tool.
For education, we always recommend 3D printer kits over ready-built machines because you get to learn more about them during the assembling process. The Fischertechnik machine was a huge disappointment as we felt it only teaches one how to push little plastic pieces together. The final product actually seemed like a byproduct of the whole process. A lot of time is spent in creating little sub-assemblies as opposed to making larger functional units.
However, some features of this machine have to be applauded. To begin, the build manual is comprehensively written with basic explanations of the components and their functions. There are also suggested tools and websites where you can create or download more 3D printable models. The manual is excellent for a learner and beats those of other machines that simply provide troubleshooting guide with sketchy explanations that are difficult to understand.
Moreover, the information given is not specifically for the Fischertechnik machine. You can also use it on various 3D printing focused channels and websites. The minimum age recommended to use this printer is 14. This is important since assembling the machine is complex and the final product is not very impressive in terms of ease of use, quality, reliability and even safety.
Why do we say it’s not safe? Well, the hotend is completely exposed and it’s difficult to know whether it heats up to 20 or 200 degrees Celsius. Moreover, since the machine lacks any type of temperature LED indicator or fan, it is definitely risky for younger kids, who might want to touch the hot end.
Overall the Fischertechnik machine is a basic 3D printer that mimics a trial for the actual functioning 3D printer. Lack of features such as a part cooling fan or LED indicator, the non-standard cooling system and lack of an adjustable bed make it less qualified to be used as a 3D-printer toy, or even a 3D printer for that matter. Also its price is quite high given that there are many better-quality printers that are affordable, more fan and provides a better learning experience.
Check the video below for a visual review of the Fischertechnik 3D printer:
If you are die-hard fan of Fischertechnik system and brand and you feel like trying their printer, go ahead and buy it. However, if this is not the case, (especially for educators), it will be a terrible decision to purchase this Fischertechnik 3D Printer kit. An excellent alternative would be the Printrbot Play, that is easier to assemble and you can therefore start experimenting with different features in no time.