- According to one expert community, people said that in terms of print quality, customizable parts, and all print-related issues, the two are about the same (Source)
- They do say that the Aquila is easier to assemble (specifically the X-axis gantry can be changed smoothly which is a critical calibration), but the motors on the Ender 3 V2 don’t get anywhere near as hot as the Aquila’s does
- The Voxelab Aquila tends to be more affordable than the Ender 3 V2
- Ender printers have a larger user base community but the Aquila community is expanding fast and people are really helpful
- One user said that the Aquila is superior to the Ender 3 V2 because with the Ender you often have to upgrade all the parts to get the printer working efficiently and with the Aquila you don’t
Owing to their low price point, both the Voxelab Aquila and Ender 3 are appealing to first-time DIYers looking to begin 3D printing, as well as smaller manufacturing firms looking to develop a budget-friendly fleet of machines.
Voxelab Aquila vs. Ender 3
Presently, both devices are quite affordable and each has a devoted community of fellow users who can provide technical support and help with troubleshooting. As such, both machines are much more accessible than their expensive and complicated counterparts.
Nevertheless, each has several drawbacks and a variety of known issues.Here’s a breakdown of their specifications and the pros and cons associated with each device.
The Big Picture
Overview of the Voxelab Aquila
The Voxelab Aquila is an entry-level and fully open-source 3D printer manufactured by a subsidiary of Flashforge, one of the leading producers of professional-grade 3D printers.
Both the original Aquila and the Aquila X2 are compatible with a variety of slicing applications, including Voxelmaker, TinkerCAD, and Cura.
Moreover, they can be easily adapted and modified using either readily accessible files to print parts or by purchasing additional hardware. When properly functioning, an Aquila printer operates at approximately 50 decibels.
New and inexperienced users may find this loud, but by comparison to other devices, it is relatively quiet. The hotbed reaches 110 ℃ in five minutes, and it has a maximum temperature of 250 ℃ when operating correctly.
However, an upgrade to the firmware can allow the hotbed to reach 300 ℃. With a maximum build area of 220 x 220 x 250 mm (or 8.66 x 8.66 x 9.84 in), most novice creators will find that the printer will suit their needs.
The Aquila is designed to automatically resume printing after being powered back up, rather than starting from scratch. This minimizes the potential for waste. Moreover, it comes with a highly durable carbon crystal silicon glass plate bed, which will not warp, whereas other printers in this price range typically come with textured magnetic mats that are less durable and will warp over time.
Glass plates work well with PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filament. Printing directly to glass is also often aesthetically preferable to printing on a textured bed; the glass creates a glossy finish on the bottom of the first layer and, if one achieves proper adhesion, the models are less prone to warp.
While the Voxelab Aquila is generally positively regarded by users, there are some known issues. First, the bed is susceptible to leveling issues. Regular tightening and leveling are required to achieve optimal results.
Second, some users have reported experiencing adhesion issues. However, applying a thin layer of glue or hairspray is a common and effective workaround. More worrisome is that the motherboard fan has been known to fail, either partially or totally.
This results in a high-pitched screeching sound and, if it is not addressed, it can result in the motherboard overheating.
In such cases, users should immediately contact Voxelab technical support and arrange to have a replacement part shipped.
Overview of the Ender 3
Creality’s Ender 3 falls within the same affordable price range as the Aquila. When it comes to performance, the earlier Ender 3 and later Ender 3 v2 are on par with one another, though the newer model features a more aesthetically pleasing form factor, some additional extensions, and an upgraded display.
The Ender 3s come partially assembled, and completing the setup typically takes about two hours. Like the Aquila, Ender 3s are compatible with the same slicing applications as the Aquila, including Voxelmaker, TinkerCAD, and Cura.
Creality Slicer is similar in many regards to Cura and is a simple application appropriate for first-time modelers.
It also comes with an Ender 3 v2 preset, whereas Cura does not.
As with their Voxelab counterparts, Ender 3s offer a 220 x 220 x 250 mm (or 8.66 x 8.66 x 9.84 in) maximum build volume and the ability to resume printing after restarting. They also operate at approximately 50 decibels and the hotbeds can reach 110℃ in five minutes.
Unlike the Aquila, the Ender 3 hotbed can reach 280 ℃ without modification. Whereas the Aquila comes with a glass build plate, the Ender 3s have a textured magnetic mat. This results in better adhesion, though it leaves a textured surface on the bottom of the first layer of a model.
Moreover, magnetic bed mats are not simply prone to warp: they will warp over time. In this regard, they are not as durable as their glass counterparts, and they will need to be replaced regularly. Fortunately, they are sold in packs of five and are relatively inexpensive.
The Ender 3 v2 is marketed as featuring an improved extruder that is less prone to plugging or other extrusion errors. However, many users have found that the extruder, which is made of plastic, is susceptible to cracking and thus requires replacement after a number of months.
Quality replacements are, relative to the overall investment, somewhat costly. Beyond this, the most common complaint associated with the Ender 3 is that regular adjustment is necessary to ensure proper bed leveling.
Many leveling problems can be avoided by ensuring that the unit is assembled properly and by preheating the bed before leveling.
There are a few key factors you should consider when purchasing a 3D printer. Below, we will go over some of the most important considerations to keep in mind.
FDM printers are the most popular type of 3D printer. They work by extruding a filament of thermoplastic material, which is then deposited in layers to create the final product. FDM printers are typically less expensive than SLA printers, and they are also easier to use.
SLA printers work by curing a photopolymer resin with an ultraviolet (UV) laser. This process creates very precise and detailed prints, but it is also more expensive and difficult to use than FDM printing.
The next thing you need to consider is the print quality you need. If you are only going to be printing simple objects, then you probably don’t need a high-end printer. However, if you want to print complex objects or fine details, then you will need a printer that is capable of producing high-quality prints.
Another consideration is print speed. If you need to print a lot of objects quickly, then you will need a printer that is capable of printing at high speeds. However, if you only need to print a few objects, then print speed may not be as important of a consideration.
Of course, cost is also an important consideration. 3D printers can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. You need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a printer, and then find a printer that fits within your budget.
Ease of Use
You also need to consider how easy the printer is to use. Some printers are very user-friendly, while others can be more difficult to use. If you are new to 3D printing, then you will probably want to find a printer that is easy to use. However, if you are more experienced, then you may not mind a printer that is a bit more challenging to use.
These are just a few of the things you need to consider when purchasing a 3D printer. By taking the time to consider your needs, you can find the perfect printer for your home or business.
In terms of build volume and normal operation, the Ender 3 and Aquila are more or less indistinguishable. The Ender 3 v2 arguably has a more aesthetically pleasing design, but this does not bear on its performance.
Units from both brands require partial assembly, and, while experiences vary, it is highly recommended that first-time users make use of the robust support communities and available videos to aid in proper assembly.
As explained above, the chief point of differentiation pertains to the printer bed. The Aquila’s glass plate bed will not warp and it produces a smooth, glossy surface on the model, whereas the Ender 3 magnetic mat bed will warp and it leaves a textured finish on models.
That having been said, the Ender 3 bed results in better and more consistent adhesion than glass, and replacement mats are relatively inexpensive.
Anyone who doesn’t mind doing a bit of tinkering will find that both the Voxelab Aquila and the Ender 3 provide an inexpensive way to get started with 3D printing.