3D NATIVES: Test of the SH65 3D printer from Volumic

Volumic is pleased and proud of the test and rating given to our latest SH65 3D printer by 3D Natives.

“Published on September 15, 2022 by Elliot S.

Inaugurating the French professional desktop FDM printer market in 2014, Volumic is the first French manufacturer of high performance desktop extrusion machines. Thus, the manufacturer quickly had the opportunity to work with large professional companies such as the SEB group, Stelantis (PSA), Ariane Groupe, Safran and Thales. Rewarded on multiple occasions, such as during the CES in Las Vegas in 2020 but also by being invited to the Élysée Palace to exhibit during the “Fabriqué en France” show in 2020 and 2021, Volumic is a recognized player in additive manufacturing.

In October 2021, Volumic unveils the SH65: a high-performance, high-volume printer to complement the current range. This new printer has a new movement system more adapted to its dimensions and, thanks to its entry price of 9,200 € HT, is positioned as a high-end machine with performances similar to the SC2. To ensure its performance in the field, the SH65 is marketed after a 10-month pre-production period. For which uses was the SH65 developed? What performance does it deliver? Find, from now on, our test of the Volumic SH65.

The SH65 is a high performance FDM desktop printer

Unpacking the Volumic SH65

At first glance, the SH65 3D printer is imposing and comes on a pallet, in a large box, protected by several foam blocks. Unpacking is easy since the top of the large box is removable, allowing easy access to the 3D printer in order to lift it up and carry it to the work surface using its side handles.

Inside the box, the 3D printer arrives pre-assembled. It includes many accessories including a spool of PLA Ultra, gloves, a can of 3DLAC, a pair of cutting pliers, a scalpel with its spare blades, a USB cable and a power cable, a flat key of 7, 2 needles (for the nozzle), a spatula, a USB SD card reader, a central filament reel as well as the complete documentation in paper and digital version on the SD card provided also containing software and sample files (STL and g-code)

The SH65 comes with a multitude of accessories

Measuring 900 x 500 x 480 mm and weighing 55 kg, the SH65 is a desktop FDM machine with a generous print volume of 650 x 300 x 300 mm. It is recommended to carry it with two people and to make sure that the space on which it is positioned is strong enough (the manufacturer recommends a work surface that can support more than 80kg).

As far as components are concerned, the Volumic SH65 is based on a 6 mm aeronautical aluminium frame associated with a Cartesian movement system in X and Y which is based on 12 mm tripled chromium-plated rectified axes, ball bushings and 3 nema 23 motors (2 for the Y-axis and 1 for the X-axis) while the Z-axis uses 4 nema 17 motors and 4 16 mm axes to ensure a first layer parallel to the table. To print, the SH65 is equipped with a custom extruder, specially built by Volumic with components from Bondtech and a bi-metal print head, also custom made, with parts from E3D.

The print head of the SH65 is custom developed by Volumic

Because of its horizontal structure, Volumic chose to have the longest axis in Y, whereas the longest axis is usually in Z. Volumic told us that this decision was based on customer feedback regarding the usefulness of a longer Y axis. FDM printed parts are anisotropic, which means that they can be more brittle along the Z axis. By using this longer Y-axis, and by adjusting the orientation of the parts, it will be possible to improve the mechanical properties, and in particular the tensile strength, of large prints.

On the front, a large transparent acrylic door with double wings allows a global view on the printing chamber and easy access to the plate. A beautiful 7″ color touch screen takes its place in the center. The sides, back and top of the printer are made of aluminum plates (aeronautical grade) while the top part has a large opening that can accommodate an optional cover (including cylinders and ABEK/HEPA filter).

Although the SH65 3D printer stands out in terms of size, we still find the brand’s codes, with several 3D printed components in Volumic’s own fluorescent green color, but also other more subtle parts such as the black ventilation grids. The manufacturer makes these models available via its website so that they can be easily replaced.

The SH65 uses PETG printed components like on this part linking the X and Y axes

Installation of the Volumic SH65 3D printer

The SH65 arrives pre-assembled, simply remove it from its shipping carton, set it up on a work surface and remove all the protective foam blocks. The only assembly to be done is the spool holder made of several 3D printed parts, a screw and two PTFE tubes used to guide the filament to the print head.

As soon as the printer is switched on for the first time, it is ready to be loaded with filament and it is recommended to level the print head (this has already been done, but the setting can be altered during transport, so it is advisable to check it again).

The SH65 has a large magnetic glass plate

Regarding this leveling, it allows to adjust the parallelism of the print head relative to the plate. The latter is fixed and the whole X/Y movement system is mobile in Z thanks to 4 independent Nema 17 motors. The height of each corner of the square can be adjusted slightly to compensate for a possible planarity defect. Due to the size of the print tray, it may not be completely level. If necessary, it will be possible to compensate this defect thanks to 11 screws placed under the plate allowing to raise or lower specific sections.

The manual supplied with the 3D printer is relatively complete, although only available in French. It guides the user through the start-up process and then gives recommendations to correctly adjust the printer settings and master the additional features. The manual also provides preventive maintenance tips as well as the repacking procedure in case of a return.

The tray of the SH65 is fixed and the levelling is done by 4 screws

In addition to the paper manual and the digital files on the SD card supplied with the SH65 3D printer, the manufacturer’s website contains all the slicer profiles, firmware, software and utilities, 3D files of the machine’s printed parts and documentation. On the after-sales service page, the Nice-based manufacturer offers a knowledge base space where you can consult the answers to the majority of questions related to the use of its machines. Note that it is also possible to ask a new question if the problem encountered is not yet listed.

The only negative point on the horizon, we noticed that when the two front doors were locked, the right one could exert a slight pressure on the left one and thus distort the door closing sensor. A point that we took the liberty of bringing to the attention of the Volumic team who informed us of its resolution via a review on the new machines.

Software for the SH65 3D printer

For its machines, Volumic develops its own motherboards, the Ultralumics. The manufacturer relies on a highly customized version of Marlin to control its printers.

On the slicer side, Volumic advises using Simplify3D for best results, but the manufacturer does share pre-configured profiles for Cura software. Simplify3D is one of the oldest slicers on the market. With advanced features, it is recommended for its degree of customization, its performance and the profiles provided by the manufacturer are best developed. Once the models are sliced on Simplify3D, it is possible to save the g-code on the SD card or to use the printer’s remote control interface, which operates on a local network. This is accessible via the machine’s IP address and allows you to start printing and manage all the printer’s parameters.

Simplify3D is the preferred slicing software for use with Volumic

However, Volumic does not leave Cura users out in the cold and has also developed profiles for the popular free slicer. By using Cura, it will be possible to natively associate the printer with the slicer via the local network by simply entering its IP address. Other settings like advanced fills and supports are also available.

Following feedback from customers, the manufacturer has confirmed that it is currently working on new profiles in order to be able to use other slicers such as SuperSlicer or PrusaSlicer. Although Volumic relies on third-party software for slicing, the manufacturer has also developed some interesting tools in-house. It offers Volunet, a print farm management software that allows you to control multiple machines at once; Verify3D, a 3D file viewer; and Colorify3D, a tool that allows you to section a g-code file to pause printing and make manual filament changes, allowing for simple multi-color printing.

Colorify3D allows you to modify the g-code to simplify filament changes

First 3D prints with the SH65

Once unpacked and installed, the SH65 3D printer is ready to print. So we started our impressions with the supplied Ultra PLA and pre-configured profiles on Simplify3D. From the very first printing, we obtained a finished piece reproducing finely all the details of the model. The printing profiles provided by the manufacturer allow a fast printing and offer a very good result.

From our first impressions, we noticed a slight problem with the supplied spool holder. This one vibrated during the printing process and had the annoying tendency to obstruct the passage of the print head. After modeling, printing and installing a new PLA Ultra coil holder, we quickly eliminated this concern.

Once we finished our PLA Ultra prints, we experimented with PETG Ultra. Again, Simplify3D profiles allow for smooth manufacturing from the first print. In each print, the details of the models were reproduced exactly and the underside of the parts has a smooth surface thanks to the magnetic glass printing plate and the 3Dlac provided. During the printing process, the parts stick firmly to the heated glass plate, but as soon as the plate cools, the prints peel off by themselves, allowing easy removal. In addition to Volumic’s Ultra PETG, we have also used PETG from other manufacturers, attesting to the SH65’s compatibility with third-party materials.

In general, the manufacturer has done a lot of work to make the user experience more fluid. Thanks to the preconfigured profiles, the various compatible tools and the intuitive menu on the printer’s touch screen, the SH65 is easy to learn.

We continued the test by printing a multitude of models in ABS. The lack of a default top cover on the SH65 highlighted concerns about warping, delamination or parts coming off the platen during printing. It will therefore be necessary to equip the optional cover if you wish to print in technical materials sensitive to temperature change.

It would also have been desirable to have a second extruder available to print complex geometries with soluble media. The supports will therefore be made of the same printing material as the rest of the part. However, the precision of the machine makes it easy to remove the supports.

Despite the good performance of the SH65, the lack of a top cover was felt on the ABS prints

We also printed in TPU, showing the capabilities of the SH65 in printing flexible material and its compatibility with this filament. The only problem we encountered was related to the insertion of the filament. When inserting it into the filament end sensor, the TPU is too flexible to engage the sensor properly. By playing with the filament, we were finally able to insert it correctly and start printing. These went as planned, with no angel hair or other defects.

Finally, we tested the Universal Ultra filament, a thermoplastic close to PLA + developed by Volumic. Again, the prints are successful and the material is easy to use thanks to the profiles provided.

Whatever the material, the large print volume offered by the SH65 is a real asset. It allows to make large prints or to print a large number of pieces simultaneously by filling the tray with many models.

The large printing volume of the SH65 allows to create large parts or to print in series
This FDM test allowed us to witness the accuracy of the SH65
The precision of the SH65 allowed us to print this 6 speed automatic transmission
Since the SH65 uses 3D printed components, it is easy to reprint them for replacement

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