Reztek Systems

Technology, Security, and More

3D PrintingElegoo

Elegoo Neptune 4 Pro – The Most Painful Experience Yet?

Between the experiences with a myriad of printers from Creality, AnkerMake, Bambu Lab, and Sovol, the expectations going in with the latest printer to hit the bench were moderated. A Newegg Shell Shocker enabled the purchase of the Elegoo Neptune 4 Pro for $240 USD with a $30 gift card. $210 for a Klipper-based bedslinger which had glowing reviews across the web?!?! If it sounds too good to be true, it is. The printer was received and initial setup efforts were completed in short order. After weeks of calibration, over a hundred hours of troubleshooting, and resolving egregious quality control errors during this process, the general consensus on Reddit matches our experience. This is a TERRIBLE printer which was rushed to market. While Andrew Sink over at Tom’s Hardware states that “This printer is going to blow you away“, the difference between what he may have received as part of the press versus what the average customer will obtain is dramatic.

The unit we received was manufactured in October and was only one firmware release behind the current version (v1.12.41) at the time of receipt. With a Q.C. Inspected sticker on the Y-axis belt tensioning mechanism, the implication that an initial series of quality checks were completed was quickly disproven but took some time to identify all of the elements that were contributing to printing issues. Models included on the USB drive that comes with the printer focus on using the center of the bed. Issues which will manifest when moving closer to the edges of the bed won’t appear until one explores the myriad of models which are freely available elsewhere. One of the most basic tests for bed calibration involves some variation of thin square layers which may sometimes have connecting lines in between the squares. Excluding the potential for modifying the Z-Axis offset to achieve the optimal level of space between the print head and the bed, flaws within this model aid in pointing to further corrections which may be required for leveling the bed.

Ultimately, the printer was returned after losing almost a month in trying to get it to work. Problems experienced during ownership include the following items:

  • Improper and inconsistent stock assembly: Initial printing problems were eventually traced to a loose screw on the left-hand side of the gantry. Further issues with print consistency stemmed from an overtightened Z-Slot wheel on the right hand side of the gantry. This wheel wore down excessively in a matter of days. The metal wheels supporting the extruder assembly were not sufficiently tightened. Metal wheels under the right-hand side of the bed also suffered from this inconsistency.
  • Prior firmware had issues with maintaining the Z Offset: The bastardized iteration of Klipper that Elegoo decided to use had its fair share of bugs. There have been at least two releases since our experience that may address some of these issues.
  • Blob of Death: This has happened to multiple people on Reddit; the filament ultimately gets stuck on the print head, generates a clog, and continued printing in an unmonitored state results in potential damage to the hot end or extruder. As all prints were being monitored due to the inconsistent and subpar results we were having, both instances where this almost happened were proactively mitigated.
  • Convoluted firmware update process: The existence of separate processes to update the touchscreen and printer is exacerbated by an early-life switch for the voltage of the stepper motors. Each bundle contains a version for the 1.2A motors and the 0.8A motors. In addition to these two processes, the last firmware update which was attempted contained a “fix pack” which required execution of a third binary.

The amount of time spent troubleshooting and calibrating this budget printer has a cost, and said cost exceeds any possible savings of selecting an Elegoo printer versus competing units which will require less time to make operational in a more reliable manner. There is a LOT to like about Klipper. The screws_tilt_adjust function drastically simplifies the process of tramming the bed. The existence of a web interface and network connectivity for job submission is far superior to the old school method of transfering SD cards or USB flash drives between computers and the printer. The fact that OpenNept4une exists demonstrates how far off the mark Elegoo went with their latest series of FDM printers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.