Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D In-Depth Printer Review
You know SLA is making its way mainstream when models like the Sparkmaker pop onto the market. This bare-bones SLA printer comes in at under $300, but is it worth your time? Find out in our Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D printer review.
Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D Printer Review Basics
Let’s start by noting the obvious: the Sparkmaker is incredibly basic. Be prepared for a short and sweet spec evaluation on this budget SLA printer.
The build volume measures 3.8”L x 2.1”W x 4.9”H, which is a bit smaller compared to other desktop SLA units. Be sure that the models you want to print will fit in this small area. Connectivity options are limited to off-line SD card and the UI consists of a single button. No touchscreen with the Sparkmaker. Instead, load your model onto an SD card, load the card, then press the button to begin printing. We appreciate how simple this is for beginners, but miss the touchscreen interfaces that most if not all other SLA printers provide.
Print quality is actually passable, especially if you don’t mind putting in a little post processing work. However, note that there are actually two versions of this printer: an HD and an FHD model. In the $249 version, accuracy ranges from 20 microns on the Z-axis to 100 microns on the XY-axis with 720p masking screen resolution. In contrast, the LCD masking screen in the newest $349 model features 1080p resolution. Without a resolution upgrade, models from the cheaper $249 version of this printer are blockier and less-detailed than with most other SLA printers.
Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D Printer Review Pros
The Sparkmaker’s dirt-cheap pricetag cannot be ignored. Coming in at under $250, this is one of the least expensive SLA printers on the market. Considering the quality of the prints, that’s a pretty good price. If you just can’t wait to get your hands on SLA technology but your budget is set in stone, the Sparkmaker may just be for you.
Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D Printer Review Cons
Poor Customer Service
There are several red flags when it comes to the company behind the Sparkmaker. The Sparkmaker owes its existence to a successful Kickstarter campaign. In a shady turn of events, however, to this day there are backers who have not received their Sparkmaker, yet anyone can purchase this machine on Amazon or Aliexpress with next-day shipping. To add insult to injury, backers were promised a heavily discounted unit for their early support. The company claims the Sparkmaster retails for $499, when in reality it sells for the same on Amazon as it cost to purchase early through Kickstarter. Ouch.
During the Kickstarter campaign, the company also promised not to charge customers more than their original pledge. Unfortunately, original backers have indeed been charged steep shipping fees, sometimes for $50+. Other examples of poor customer service include unanswered emails, long shipping times, and miscommunication when it comes to replacement parts. In general, the company seems overwhelmed and apathetic, which is never a good combination.
Poor Design and QC
In addition to poor customer service, the Sparkmaker doesn’t have a flawless reputation for build quality. We immediately noticed the cheap, light-weight construction found in this 5.9lb model. Plastic parts are thin while metal parts are either hallow or made from aluminum. Moreover, several customers complain of shoddy electrical connections, loose screws, and other quality control issues that range from mildly annoying to downright dangerous. Be aware that in this instance, you get exactly what you pay for with this cheap SLA printer.
Sparkmaker High-Resolution 3D Printer Review Verdict
If you’ve come this far in the article, you can probably guess our opinion on this printer. No matter how much money you save from this purchase, it isn’t worth the inevitable headache that comes along with it. Even if you get a perfect Sparkmaker with no QC issues, and you never have to contact customer service, the poor design all but promises that this printer will become a paperweight in a few months or a year.
If you really insist on buying an SLA printer on a tight budget, try the Monoprice Mini SLA or the Elegoo Mars. Instead, however, we recommend saving a bit longer to afford a model like the Anycubic Photon or EPAX X1. Whatever you choose, pass on the Sparkmaker.