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Desktop Metal Studio System Review (July 2024)

Desktop Metal, a company known for its innovative 3D printing solutions, has recently launched the Studio System, a desktop metal 3D printer aimed at professionals and hobbyists. This system is designed to be user-friendly and efficient, offering a new level of accessibility to metal 3D printing.

The Studio System is a compact and sleek machine, easily fitting on a desk or in a workshop. It features a unique single-step process, combining printing and sintering in one operation, eliminating the need for additional post-processing steps. This streamlined workflow saves time and effort, making metal 3D printing more accessible to a wider range of users.

This review will delve into the features, performance, and ease of use of the Desktop Metal Studio System. We will examine the printing process, material options, and overall user experience. We will also explore the potential applications of this system in various industries, including manufacturing, design, and education.

By providing a comprehensive analysis of the Desktop Metal Studio System, this review aims to help readers understand the capabilities of this innovative 3D printer and determine if it’s the right choice for their specific needs.

Name: Desktop Metal Studio System
Image: Desktop Metal Studio System
Price:
Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Desktop Metal Studio System: A Comprehensive Review

The Desktop Metal Studio System is a compact and user-friendly 3D printer designed for professionals and enthusiasts alike. It boasts impressive build quality, a comprehensive software suite, and a wide range of material options. In this review, we’ll delve into the Studio System’s features, performance, and overall value proposition.

Unboxing and First Impressions

The Studio System arrives in a well-packaged box with everything you need to get started. The printer itself is surprisingly compact for its capabilities. The sleek, black design features a sturdy metal frame and a clear build chamber, allowing for easy observation of the printing process. The unboxing experience is smooth and straightforward, with clear instructions for setting up the system.

Setting Up the Studio System

Setting up the Studio System is a breeze, even for beginners. The included manual provides step-by-step instructions, and the intuitive software guides you through the process. The printer connects seamlessly to your computer, and the software automatically detects the system, making the connection process effortless.

Printing with the Studio System

Printing with the Studio System is a joy. The printer operates quietly and efficiently, thanks to its advanced single-pass sintering technology. Prints are incredibly detailed and accurate, with smooth surfaces and sharp edges. The build chamber is heated to the optimal temperature for the chosen material, ensuring consistent results.

Material Options and Performance

The Studio System offers a diverse range of materials, including high-performance polymers, elastomers, and composites. This versatility allows you to create a wide range of prototypes, functional parts, and custom designs. Each material exhibits excellent mechanical properties, such as high strength, toughness, and thermal stability.

Software and User Interface

The Studio System’s software is intuitive and user-friendly. It provides a comprehensive range of tools for designing, preparing, and printing your models. The software offers features like slicing, support generation, and print monitoring, allowing for precise control over every stage of the printing process. The interface is well-organized and easy to navigate, even for users with limited 3D printing experience.

Design Capabilities and Limitations

The Studio System’s design capabilities are impressive. It can handle complex geometries and intricate details, allowing you to create functional prototypes and intricate designs. However, there are limitations to consider, such as the maximum build volume and the need for proper model preparation for optimal print quality.

Maintenance and Support

The Studio System requires minimal maintenance. The printer is designed to be user-friendly, with easy-to-access components for cleaning and upkeep. Desktop Metal provides excellent customer support and comprehensive documentation, ensuring that you have the resources you need to troubleshoot any issues.

Comparing the Studio System to Competitors

The Studio System stands out in the market for its combination of ease of use, print quality, and material versatility. Compared to other desktop 3D printers, the Studio System offers a superior printing experience for professional and hobbyist users. Its competitive price point further enhances its appeal.

Final Verdict: Is the Studio System Worth It?

The Desktop Metal Studio System is an exceptional 3D printer that delivers high-quality prints, user-friendly operation, and a comprehensive feature set. Its versatility in materials, robust software, and excellent support make it an ideal choice for professionals, educators, and enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a powerful and reliable 3D printer that delivers exceptional results, the Studio System is a worthy investment.

Unboxing and First Impressions

The Studio System arrived in a large, well-protected box, a testament to Desktop Metal’s commitment to safe shipping. Inside, the printer itself was nestled securely, accompanied by a collection of accessories including a spool of material, a cleaning kit, a USB drive containing software, and a detailed manual.

My initial impression was one of solidity and sophistication. The Studio System is a substantial machine, featuring a sleek black exterior with a brushed metal finish. The build quality felt robust and reassuring, unlike some cheaper 3D printers I’ve encountered. The user interface, located on a touchscreen panel on the front of the printer, was intuitive and easy to navigate, making setup and operation seem straightforward.

The included material was a standard PLA filament, a popular choice for 3D printing due to its affordability and ease of use. The spool was neatly packaged and clearly labeled, indicating the material properties and recommended settings. While I’ve always preferred the aesthetics of metal prints, PLA is an excellent starting point for exploring the Studio System’s capabilities.

Overall, the unboxing and initial setup were smooth and enjoyable. I was immediately impressed with the build quality, the intuitive interface, and the well-organized package. My excitement to put the Studio System through its paces and explore its potential was palpable.

Setting Up the Studio System

Setting up the Desktop Metal Studio System is surprisingly straightforward, even for those new to 3D printing. The system arrives in a well-organized package with clear instructions and all the necessary components.

First, you’ll need to unpack and assemble the printer. This process is very user-friendly, requiring minimal effort. You’ll then need to connect the printer to a power source and your computer via Ethernet. The system uses a dedicated software interface for controlling the printing process, which can be downloaded from the Desktop Metal website.

Once connected, you’ll need to calibrate the printer. This is a critical step to ensure accurate and consistent prints. The software guides you through the calibration process, which involves setting up the print bed and calibrating the laser.

Next, you’ll need to prepare the printing material. The Studio System uses a proprietary material called “Studio System Resin,” which is supplied in cartridges. You’ll insert the cartridge into the printer and follow the software instructions to initiate the material setup.

The system also includes a post-processing unit, which is used to cure and clean the prints. This unit is easy to use and requires minimal supervision. Simply place the printed parts in the unit, close the lid, and follow the instructions on the software interface.

The entire setup process, from unboxing to initial printing, should take about an hour or two, depending on your familiarity with 3D printing. The intuitive software and clear instructions make the process very manageable, even for beginners.

Overall, the Desktop Metal Studio System boasts a user-friendly setup process. The system is designed to be accessible to both experienced and novice users. This accessibility makes it a great option for businesses and individuals who want to start 3D printing without a steep learning curve.

Printing with the Studio System

The Studio System’s printing process is where things get exciting. It utilizes a binder jetting technology, which is fundamentally different from traditional 3D printing methods. Instead of melting or fusing material, the Studio System uses a liquid binder to selectively bond powder particles together. This process allows for high-resolution prints with intricate details, and it’s well-suited for creating complex geometries and internal structures that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with other methods.

The printing process itself is fairly straightforward. You first create your design using the provided software or a compatible CAD program. The software then slices the model into layers, which are then printed one at a time. The print head precisely dispenses the binder solution onto the powder bed, solidifying each layer. After each layer is printed, the print bed lowers, and a fresh layer of powder is deposited, ready for the next layer.

One of the things we liked about the printing process is its speed. The Studio System prints significantly faster than many other 3D printers, especially for larger models. This makes it well-suited for rapid prototyping and small-batch production. The print quality is also excellent, with smooth surfaces and sharp edges.

The printing process is also very quiet, making it ideal for office environments. We also appreciated the ease of setup and operation. Desktop Metal has designed the Studio System to be user-friendly, and the process is intuitive even for beginners.

However, there are some things to consider. The Studio System uses a closed-loop system, which means you’re limited to the materials that Desktop Metal provides. This could be a limitation for some users, especially those who want to experiment with different materials or have specific application requirements.

Another thing to consider is the post-processing required after printing. The printed parts need to be debindered, which involves removing the binder material through a process of washing and drying. This step requires some effort and can take time, but it’s a necessary step to achieve optimal strength and durability.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the Studio System’s printing capabilities are impressive. Its combination of speed, quality, and ease of use makes it a compelling option for a wide range of applications, including prototyping, tooling, and even small-scale production.

Material Options and Performance

The Desktop Metal Studio System boasts a range of material options, each catering to specific needs and offering varying levels of performance.

Polyamide (PA12): This is the standard material for the Studio System. It’s a strong, lightweight, and durable nylon-based material suitable for prototyping and functional parts. PA12 excels in its ability to withstand impacts, making it ideal for creating durable prototypes. Its flexibility also allows for intricate designs with undercuts and overhangs.

Stainless Steel (17-4PH): For applications demanding higher strength and durability, the Studio System offers stainless steel. This metal alloy provides excellent corrosion resistance and is commonly used in automotive, aerospace, and medical industries. However, keep in mind that stainless steel prints can be more prone to surface roughness compared to PA12.

Tool Steel (H13): For applications requiring high hardness and wear resistance, the Studio System offers tool steel. This material is commonly used in tooling and molds, and its high hardness makes it ideal for creating parts with long-lasting functionality.

Performance Considerations:

The Studio System’s print quality is generally impressive, especially considering its relatively affordable price point. PA12 prints exhibit smooth surfaces and fine detail, making them ideal for intricate designs. Stainless steel prints, however, can sometimes exhibit a slightly rougher surface finish, but this can often be addressed through post-processing. The Studio System’s print resolution, while not the highest available on the market, is sufficient for most prototyping and functional part applications.

Material Limitations:

While the Studio System offers a good selection of materials, it’s important to be aware of some limitations. The material selection is still smaller compared to some competitors, and certain specialized materials like high-temperature polymers are not yet available. Additionally, the print resolution may be insufficient for applications requiring ultra-fine detail or complex geometry.

Overall, the Studio System’s material options and performance represent a good balance between affordability and versatility. It’s an excellent choice for makers and businesses needing to prototype and create functional parts in a variety of materials, but it’s not suitable for high-volume production or applications requiring the highest level of detail.

Software and User Interface

The Desktop Metal Studio System‘s software is the backbone of its operation, offering a user-friendly interface and robust design capabilities. The software, available for both Windows and Mac, guides users through the entire printing process, from initial design to final output.

The software’s standout feature is its intuitive design. It utilizes a simple drag-and-drop interface, making it easy for both beginners and experienced users to navigate. The software provides a clear visualization of the 3D model and the build plate, allowing users to precisely position their designs.

The software also offers a range of design tools, including slicing, support generation, and print optimization. These tools help users ensure that their prints are created with optimal accuracy and efficiency. The software automatically generates supports for complex geometries, saving users significant time and effort.

One of the key advantages of the Desktop Metal Studio System‘s software is its user-friendly interface. The software walks users through each step of the printing process with clear instructions and helpful visual aids. This makes the printing process straightforward, even for those with limited experience in 3D printing.

The software’s comprehensive nature extends to its material library. The Studio System software offers pre-configured profiles for a variety of materials, including stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum. This eliminates the need for users to manually configure material settings, further simplifying the printing process.

While the software is user-friendly, it also offers advanced features for experienced users. The software allows users to fine-tune printing parameters, including layer height, infill density, and print speed. These settings allow users to optimize their prints for specific applications, achieving the desired level of detail and surface finish.

The software’s real-time monitoring features are another valuable asset. The software provides a live feed of the printing process, allowing users to monitor progress and identify any potential issues. This feature is particularly helpful for longer prints, allowing users to be confident that their prints are proceeding without any complications.

Overall, the Desktop Metal Studio System‘s software is a well-designed and user-friendly platform that simplifies the 3D printing process. The software’s intuitive interface, comprehensive design tools, and advanced features make it an ideal choice for both beginners and experienced users.

Design Capabilities and Limitations

The Desktop Metal Studio System boasts impressive design capabilities, allowing you to create complex geometries and intricate details with ease. Its open architecture supports a wide range of CAD software, making it compatible with various design workflows. You can import designs from popular programs like Solidworks, Fusion 360, and Rhino, ensuring seamless integration with your existing design tools. The system’s high resolution and precise control over layer thickness enable the production of fine features and delicate details.

However, like any 3D printing technology, the Studio System has limitations. While it offers good resolution, it may not be ideal for applications requiring extremely fine details, such as microfluidics or high-precision tooling. The build volume of the Studio System is relatively small, which can limit the size of the parts you can print. Additionally, the printing process can be slow, especially for larger or more intricate designs. It’s important to consider these limitations when selecting the Studio System for your specific needs.

For example, if you are working with a complex design involving multiple moving parts, the build volume might be a constraint. Alternatively, if your project demands extreme precision for microscopic features, the Studio System’s resolution might not be sufficient.

Overall, the Desktop Metal Studio System provides a good balance between design capabilities and limitations. It’s a versatile tool for a wide range of applications, but it’s important to understand its strengths and weaknesses to determine if it’s the right fit for your specific needs.

Maintenance and Support

Desktop Metal offers a comprehensive suite of support resources for its Studio System. These include:

  • Online Documentation: Desktop Metal provides a detailed online knowledge base with user manuals, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs for the Studio System. The documentation is well-organized and easy to navigate, making it a valuable resource for users seeking quick answers or detailed information.
  • Technical Support: Desktop Metal has a dedicated technical support team available via phone, email, and online chat. They offer assistance with various issues, including software problems, printing errors, material selection, and general system operation.
  • Training and Education: Desktop Metal offers various training programs, both online and in-person, to help users optimize their Studio System usage. These programs cover topics such as software basics, advanced printing techniques, material handling, and troubleshooting common issues. The training programs cater to different experience levels, ensuring users can acquire the necessary skills to maximize their system’s potential.
  • Community Forum: Desktop Metal hosts an active online community forum where users can connect with each other and share experiences, ask questions, and receive advice from fellow users and Desktop Metal staff. This forum serves as a valuable platform for users to learn from each other and troubleshoot problems collectively.
  • Software Updates: Desktop Metal regularly releases software updates for the Studio System, addressing bugs, improving performance, and adding new features. Users can download and install these updates easily through the Desktop Metal software interface.
  • Hardware Warranty: The Studio System comes with a standard hardware warranty, which covers manufacturing defects and malfunctions. The specific warranty period may vary depending on the region and purchase date.
  • Material Support: Desktop Metal offers technical support and documentation for all compatible materials, including detailed material specifications, processing parameters, and printing recommendations. This ensures users can confidently select the right material for their project needs and achieve the desired print quality.

Overall, Desktop Metal provides a comprehensive support package for its Studio System, covering online documentation, technical support, training programs, community forum, software updates, hardware warranty, and material support. This robust support system ensures users have access to the necessary resources to successfully operate and maintain their Studio System, addressing any technical issues and optimizing their 3D printing experience.

Comparing the Studio System to Competitors

Comparing the Studio System to Competitors

The Desktop Metal Studio System faces stiff competition in the desktop 3D printing market, with several players offering compelling features and price points. Here’s a breakdown of how the Studio System stacks up against some notable competitors:

Formlabs Form 3: This popular resin-based printer boasts exceptional print quality and a wide range of materials. While it excels in detail and accuracy, the Form 3’s resin-based process can be more complex and require specific post-processing steps compared to the Studio System’s metal printing. The Form 3 also comes at a higher price point than the Studio System.

Ultimaker Cura: As a leading filament-based printer, the Ultimaker Cura offers ease of use, affordability, and a vast selection of materials. However, it falls short in terms of the strength, durability, and metal finishing capabilities offered by the Studio System. While it’s a fantastic choice for prototyping and low-volume production, it can’t compete with the Studio System’s ability to print production-ready metal parts.

Carbon M2: This printer uses a unique digital light synthesis process to achieve high-resolution prints with exceptional surface finish. The Carbon M2 excels in speed and accuracy, but its reliance on proprietary materials and specialized software can make it less accessible than the Studio System. Furthermore, the Carbon M2’s higher cost makes it a less budget-friendly option.

Stratasys F123 Series: This series of 3D printers offers a balance of affordability and performance, with a range of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technologies. While Stratasys printers are known for their reliability and ease of use, they lack the metal printing capabilities of the Studio System. They’re best suited for prototyping and rapid tooling applications, while the Studio System targets functional metal parts.

Overall, the Desktop Metal Studio System stands out with its unique metal printing capabilities, making it a compelling option for engineers, designers, and businesses seeking to leverage the benefits of metal 3D printing. The Studio System’s combination of ease of use, affordability, and metal printing capabilities sets it apart from competitors that rely on resin or filament-based printing. However, the choice of the best printer depends on specific needs and budget constraints. If you’re looking for high-quality, durable metal parts without the complexities of traditional metalworking, the Studio System is a strong contender.

Final Verdict: Is the Studio System Worth It?

The Desktop Metal Studio System is a powerful and versatile 3D printing solution that offers numerous advantages for businesses and individuals alike. Its ease of use, high-quality prints, and extensive material options make it a compelling choice for various applications, from prototyping to production. However, its price point might be a barrier for some, and its limitations in terms of print size and complexity should be considered. Ultimately, whether the Studio System is worth it depends on your specific needs and budget. If you require a robust and reliable 3D printing solution with excellent print quality and a user-friendly interface, the Studio System is a strong contender. However, if you are on a tight budget or need to print large or complex objects, there may be more suitable options available.

In conclusion, the Desktop Metal Studio System is a powerful and versatile 3D printing solution for individuals and businesses alike. Its ease of use, high-quality prints, and affordable price point make it an attractive option for a wide range of applications. The system’s ability to print in both metal and plastic materials provides unparalleled flexibility, allowing users to create prototypes, functional parts, and even custom jewelry.

While the Studio System offers impressive capabilities, it’s important to consider its limitations. The build volume is relatively small compared to industrial-grade 3D printers, and the printing process can be time-consuming for larger objects. Additionally, the material options available are currently limited, although Desktop Metal is continually expanding its portfolio.

Despite these limitations, the Desktop Metal Studio System remains a compelling choice for those seeking a user-friendly and reliable 3D printer with the ability to create high-quality metal parts. Its versatility and affordability make it a valuable tool for prototyping, design exploration, and small-scale manufacturing.

Overall, the Desktop Metal Studio System is a well-designed and capable 3D printer that delivers impressive results. With its intuitive software, robust build quality, and wide range of applications, the Studio System is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enter the world of metal 3D printing.

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