I’ve always had a soft spot for coreXY 3D printers. They generally look sturdy with a strong cube frame, and the way the motion system works has always left me with a small sense of awe vs the typical cartesian printers we see in the market. I have built my own corexy 3D printer in the past but I’ve seen more and more companies moving in that direction recently. The Sapphire S is one of those 3D printers that have hit the market using a coreXY kinematics. At first glance, the Sapphire S coreXY using a pre-assembled XY top plate, looked very appealing at the $360 USD price point. Let’s dive in and see how it performs.
Brand Name:Two Trees
Model Number: Sapphire S
Build Size: 200mm x 200mm x 200mm
Control Board: 32-bit Lerdge
Input rating:110V/220V AC,50/60Hz
Power Supply: 24V
Operational Extruder Temperature:Max 240C
Operational Print Bed Temperature:Max 100C
Software Output Formats:G-Code
Supported Filament:PLA, ABS, PETG, Wood
Unboxing The Sapphire S 3D Printer
The Sapphire S coreXY 3D printer arrived with a package size of 450*450*320mm. Inside the cardboard box is various levels of black soft foam holding the top assembly, bottom assembly, and middle components. The black foam used is not the sturdiest foam and I’ve seen complaints from various individuals on the condition of their printer when it arrived. My particular unit came in great condition, but I can see that some components became loose in transport and found screws loose in the foam.
Everything was in the box, the parts list was complete, and I looked for the instructions to begin assembly.
The build instructions are nicer than I’ve received from other companies but I did find a few forgotten steps which was disappointing. You would need to reference their online store photos or Facebook group photos to figure out the missing build steps. An example of this in my instance were the X and Y endstop installation steps. The instructions explain where and how to install the Z endstop, but not the X or Y which is clearly an oversight. Another missing instruction was which plug on the Lerdge control board the control board cooling fan needs to be plugged in. I contacted the manufacturer and they provided the plug location for me. While the instructions were a little lacking, the manufacturer, TwoTrees was responsive and never left me hanging.
The next piece of the assembly which was concerning was the wiring. The wire terminals on the 24V PSU were loose. When receiving a printer that has been transported from the factory from far away you should make a habit of checking the factory wiring. I tightened down all the loose connections, and double checked all the other wiring in the bottom assembly.
I also recommend checking the hot end assembly from any overseas manufacturer as I have rebuilt many hot ends that were not assembled correctly at the factory. Here, the Sapphire also encountered an issue. The supplied PTFE tube was out of spec. The Outside Diameter was too large and the PTFE tube would not enter the hot end beyond the PTFE coupling. I have lots of spares and installed a replacement PTFE tube. I let the manufacturer know and they were going to look into the issue on their side.
After double checking the wiring, checking and rebuilding the hot end, and figuring out the missing steps from the instruction, we were fully assembled. The rough start of the build quickly faded from memory as I looked at the sturdy printer in front of me.
First Impressions & First Print
The top XY assembly bolts down onto four tapped 2020 aluminum extrusions from the top down. The steppers for X and Y transfer to movement to the top assembly by way of steel rods, bearing holders, and pulleys. The Z axis is mounted in a similar way. The XY assembly is a system of linear rails, and a CNC plate assembled quite nicely on the bottom of the top plate making for a really clean looking printer that should be easily enclosed if you need it to be.
Flipping the rocker switch at the power input, and then pushing the push button in on the front of the display mount brought the Sapphire S to life. I sliced my first print using Simplify3D. I have a regular Sapphire (with 3D printed components and rods, not this version) that needed a new hot end mount printed and figured why not have the first print on this Sapphire be a replacement part for another Sapphire?
It came out great. I found a profile in the Facebook group (shout out to Ross for the profile). A few minor tweaks for my particular build and we were off to the races.
Printing and Maintenance
This was my first experience with a Lerdge control board and display and it was fairly intuitive to use the responsive touch screen printer. The printer accepts your G-Code files via a conveniently located front USB port.
The stock build surface works very well and I did not have any issues on my first print. It does provide a textured feel to the bottom of your print. I decided for the sake of keeping the stock surface in good condition to use a Mamorubot polypropolene build plate for this review as the prints stick wonderful and releases very well. I ran a variety of PLA prints and they are came out great.
I’m always a little apprehensive with cantilevered beds on an inexpensive printer but it did not appear to be a problem here. The profile was set to 100mm/s and it managed to print very well on a stock setup. I found that over the course of the all the prints, I didn’t have to constantly level the bed. It seemed to find its z home position consistently providing good first layers.
A little PTFE oil was added to the linear rails for the X and Y axis to help lubricate them. Changing filament is inconvenient with the spool holder mounted on the rear as well as the extruder. I found myself awkwardly loading and unloading filament with my arms through the printer. This can be remedied by side mounting the extruder or spool holder instead of mounting it in the rear.
There are a couple Facebook pages you can turn to for support. The first being twotrees 3D Printer. The second being EAST 3D Sapphire 3D Printers. Both groups cover the Sapphire and have active members. The East3D group would be better for general help and if you have technical support issues I’d stick with the twotrees. The Facebook groups showcase some fantastic prints from other Sapphire users as well.
Two Trees provided the Sapphire S coreXY 3D printer to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Prior to receiving this unit however, I purchased, with my own funds, a Sapphire S from East3D which was identical to the Two Trees version.
I’ve come to expect receiving printers from overseas manufacturers with quality control issues and this particular unit was not different. It’s unfortunate because a new user may not be as familiar with 3D printing and these issues would certainly impede their first experience.
Once beyond the initial build quality control hiccups, which shouldn’t be understated, the printer certainly does perform well. The aluminum extrusion frame combined with the single piece machined top plate provides a rigid structure. This structure allows you to utilize the coreXY kinematics to print some beautiful pieces. It’s a quick printer with some nice features and I’m quite happy to have it in my personal arsenal of 3D printers.