Exploring the Creality K1C 3D Printer: Part 3 of Our Hands-On Series

The Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

Our review of the Creality K1C 3D Printer concludes with a look at software, print results and final thoughts.

This is part three of a three part series, please read parts one and two.

Creality K1C 3D Printer Software

Creality Print slicing preview [Source: Fabbaloo]

The K1C system includes not only the hardware, but also quite a bit of software. There are three components:

  • The smartphone app, Creality Cloud
  • The desktop slicer, Creality Print
  • The cloud system, also called Creality Cloud

The cloud system ties it all together, routing information between the printer, the app and the desktop. Or at least usually it does.

The software facilitates the loading of your 3D models for printing, or alternatively, you can locate them in Creality’s expanding online repository. You can prepare printing tasks with a considerable amount of supplied print profiles for diverse sorts of materials. Once the slicing is done, jobs can be sent over the network to the K1C. This is quite favorable since it eliminates the need to juggle with USB sticks – almost the entire process can be performed from your desktop (or app).

Printer detail view in Creality Print in viewed through Fabbaloo

The system is notably extensive, optimally supporting a vast number of users with broad selections of Creality equipment. The team of software engineers at Creality have put in significant efforts to establish the system we see today.

My personal experience with utilizing the software for the operation of the K1C was mostly smooth, but it was not without its flaws. I came across several minor issues with the software system. Albeit minor, when summed together, these issues noticeably deterred the use of the system.

Let’s take a look at a few of the issues.

Here, for example, I encountered this mysterious software issue. It popped up one day for no apparent reason. I have no idea what is about, and could not find an answer in the Creality online wiki. Restarting the software cleared the error, fortunately.

Selecting usable filament types in Creality Print [Source: Fabbaloo]

Another issue I came across was related to choosing print profiles. You can view the extensive list of pre-set print profiles available for selection. If chosen, they subsequently show up in a condensed list during slicing. This is a method to manage the list’s size since no one uses all these materials. Just choose what you need.

Here’s how it appears in the slicer: you are only provided with the selected materials.

However, I faced a problem when I added Generic TPU to my list, which was the test subject for that day. I tried to select it for slicing, but it wasn’t present! I picked it again, and this time it appeared. But, upon restarting Creality Print, it vanished again. Could there be a cap on the number of materials you can have on your list? Or is there another issue? I’m not sure, as none of this is detailed anywhere and it doesn’t operate as you’d assume.

Pop-up error message in Creality Print [Source: Fabbaloo]

Here’s another minor issue. The print stopped and all you see is a red dot on the display. It turns out you have to click on the red dot to open up an error message — unlike the previous mystery error message that popped up. In this case it meant that the machine had run out of material. This is certainly minor, but it’s just one of many, many inconsistencies in the software interfaces.

I won’t go into detail, but I encountered over a dozen of these issues, including the mismatching print durations earlier. Some of the issues I found were:

  • The window blinks full white intermittently for no apparent reason
  • It’s hard to read many of the messages because they use light grey text on slightly darker grey backgrounds
  • Sometimes the GCODE dispatch uploads the printer take quite a long time, and other times not
  • Entering numbers into text boxes is awkward: you cannot have a blank field, so it keeps putting digits in for you
  • Creality Print would hang unexpectedly
  • Zooming in and out is way, way too sensitive
  • “One click printing” actually takes multiple clicks
  • Printer status sometimes has leftover job times and images from previous jobs during new jobs

And so on. There are more, but you get the idea: it seems that the software can do everything you need to do, but the overall interface is far more confusing than it needs to be. It can be inconsistent in display and procedure, and I get the sense that it really needs an overhaul with a stronger emphasis on user workflow.

But it does get the job done.

It’s very likely that Creality is aware of many of these issues and is working on fixing them. We may see updates to Creality Print and Creality Cloud that offer improvements, and perhaps even some of them may have been fixed by the time you read this review.

Creality K1C 3D Printer Print Results

First #3DBenchy produced on the K1C 3D printer, at very high speed [Source: Fabbaloo]

The print results were quite good from the K1C. Aside from a few print failures — due to my mistakes — the prints were quite good quality. The good first layer tends to carry through the entire object.

Oversize #3DBenchy made on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

I printed a very large #3DBenchy in PLA for fun, and it came out very well. This is actually something everyone should do, as the larger size enable you to see how the print should look at a higher level of quality.

Very fine ASA parts made on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

I printed several parts using ASA, which is very similar to ABS. Usually this is a challenging material to print, as it tends to warp and can be blobby. However, using the stock ABS profile I was able to print ASA parts that were absolutely terrific. They were probably the best ASA parts I’ve ever printed. This is likely due to the enclosed chamber, which during printing seemed to range around 35-40C.

Like ABS, ASA is quite a smelly material when heated. These two materials are notorious for particle emissions in many technical reports. When printing ASA on the K1C I did not notice any odors, suggesting that the activated carbon air filter works quite well.

Failed TPU print on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

I made an attempt at TPU printing, which unfortunately turned out to be a disappointing failure. Only after a handful of layers, the printer started air printing. I noticed that the preset TPU profile compelled the printer to function at a high speed, this was troublesome and so I chose to slow things down a bit. Despite my sincere attempts, the TPU issue remained unresolved.

After a detailed discussion with the folks at Creality, it came to my notice that using the dryer while printing TPU is a big no. I was under the notion that dryer usage was fine, considering the better quality offered by dry filament, and hence kept all the spools in the dryer.

The folks at Creality suggested that the best way to place the spool is not inside the dryer, rather directly behind the printer. Implementing this change did make a difference as it eliminated a noticeable length of the PTFE tube leading to the dryer.

Another failed TPU print on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

Unfortunately this also failed miserably. I then did some manual filament pulling and realized that any length of PTFE tube cannot be used: the flexible TPU lays down in the tube and creates a huge amount of friction. It’s extremely difficult to pull TPU through the PTFE tubes. The extruder would pull the filament and eventually it would snag in the tube, and stretch until air printing began.

Successful TPU configuration on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

The solution was to eliminate ALL PTFE tubes from the TPU filament path. Here you see the configuration that worked: the TPU filament passes directly into the extruder.

Unfortunately none of this is documented in the instructions, and I had to figure this out with Creality and on my own. But once done, the K1C was able to print even large complex objects in TPU with ease – and speed.

I then moved on to another flexible material, polypropylene. PP is a terrific material for making soft objects, and I was curious to see how it worked on the K1C. I used the same spool configuration as TPU.

However, PP does require some help to adhere to the print plate, as the PEI does not naturally stick to PP. To overcome this issue you must use a specialized adhesion solution, like Magigoo’s PP product.

PP 3D print on the Creality K1C 3D printer, showing adhesion and not adhesion [Source: Fabbaloo]

Here you can see how it works. On the left I’ve applied Magigoo, but on the right you can see where I didn’t apply it. I also recommend using a wide brim to help with PP adhesion.

Outstanding PP bottle printed on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

This print of a bottle and screw-on lid worked very well. The surfaces were flawless, and the lid screwed on perfectly.

3D printed PP bottle holds water! [Source: Fabbaloo]

But wait, there’s more: this PP bottle was so well printed that it actually held water without leaking! This is quite rare in 3D prints that I’ve done.

Nylon 3D print made on the Creality K1C 3D printer

I then tried nylon material, which is also challenging to print. Here I printed a bag clip that worked very well — but it did require a wide brim.

Extreme length nylon 3D print made on the Creality K1C 3D printer

Would the nylon warp in the K1C? Here I printed a very long object and it came out perfectly. The only issue was that the brim has to be trimmed off.

Silk filament works extremely well in the K1C. I printed a cute penguin in rainbow silk, and it looked terrific.

Cute rainbow penguin printed on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

Amazing silk rainbow vase 3D printed on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

The larger Lumpy-Bumpy vase turned out excellent as well, although there did seem to be some slight Z-axis variations.

Creality provides a unique PLA-CF material, which I used to print a rather strong scoop. This is quite an interesting material that I intend on using for more strong objects — but I have to make sure they don’t encounter higher temperature environments or the PLA may soften.

Scoop made on PLA-CF on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

Partially good Nylon-CF print made on the Creality K1C 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

I did try printing Nylon-CF, and my scoop print failed due to poor adhesion (nylon, eh?) However, the part that was printed was extraordinarily smooth and unbelievably strong. This is another material I’ll be using more frequently since it is so easy to print on the K1C.

Finally, I tried printing in Nylon-GF — glass fiber reinforced. This scoop printed perfectly. The surface is smooth, but you must be careful rubbing skin against it due to the glass fibers. The scoop was, like the CF prints, extremely strong.

Creality K1C 3D Printer Final Thoughts

In the end, despite incomplete instructions and frustratingly inconsistent software, I really do like the K1C. It’s a very powerful piece of hardware that can genuinely handle an extensive variety of materials effectively. Creality has carried out a wonderful job with the K1C hardware.

The software does require enhancement. It’s overly complicated, a peculiar blend of consumer and professional features, and unintuitive user interface components. Once you navigate through the software, it does perform, but the journey isn’t enjoyable.

What’s most impressive about this device is its price: as of this writing, it’s only US$499. This price is extraordinary for a machine whose capabilities a year or two ago would be deemed a high-performance professional machine that might cost thousands. Here, the K1C is less than half of a thousand to purchase.

If you’re ready to decode a few mysteries and can deal with the convoluted software, the K1C is an amazing machine. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, but it’s perfect for enthusiasts and very likely beneficial for low volume production, particularly with engineering materials.

CREALITY

K1C 3D PRINTER

BEGINNER 6/10

ENTHUSIAST 9/10

PRODUCTION 9/10

BEST FEATURES

✔︎ Great print quality

✔︎ Material range

✔︎ Automation

QUESTIONS

✖︎ Questionable instructions

✖︎ Inconsistent software

✖︎ Flex material spooling

This is part three of a three part series, please read parts one and two.

Via Creality

Original source

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