This Roadtest has been done on an "Engineering Release" version of the product so there may be differences to the released product


Fellow roadtester dougw mentioned that he'd had to upgrade his video card to run the automaker software so I thought I'd also check my machine which is a Dell OptiPlex 755 from a few years back. It's the ultra small form factor so there's no option to do any upgrades.


I downloaded the Automaker software and it reported a problem.


I had to register online to get access to the support site and then found the following issue:


"I am running Windows and AutoMaker tells me that my computer does not satisfy the 3D requirements"
"AutoMaker runs on JavaFX, which requires a certain minimum level of 3D support on your PC. Please make sure that the appropriate video drivers for your PC are installed and fully up-to-date. We have tested this successfully on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8.1. We expect there not to be any problems with a modern PC but if you continue to experience difficulties after updating your video driver then please contact us."


My machine appears to meet the requirements on paper so it's a bit annoying that this error occurs. I tried Dell, Intel and Windows to ensure I had the latest drivers but no joy. As requested I let them know but it would appear my only option is to use a different computer for this.

Luckily my work laptop did not have the same issue.

For my first experiment with the software I loaded up some motorbike parts.

You'll notice that some of the parts are blue and some orange. This is because the check to determine if parts are overlapping is using a bounding box rather than the actual component. It seems fairly straightforward to move the parts about but when scaling and rotating the parts you need to press Enter or Tab (rather than clicking on the next field) or the changes don't take. You can resize either by typing in new dimensions or by using the transforms, it might be nice to do this using the mouse too. I tried auto positioning these parts but it did not manage to successfully position the seven components on the bed although there was plenty of space when they had been scaled to 50%.


I failed to manage to save the layout as the menu that was supposed to allow the saving did not seem to exist, there is supposed to be a registration screen when the software is first started but that did not appear, the "preferences" button also does not seem to be available.


The "toolbar" buttons along the bottom don't seem to match the manual, with the "group" button missing, some tooltips here would have been nice too.


The right arrow moves you forward in the workflow but disappears if the printer is not ready e.g. the filament is not fed.


The printer status screen allows you to see the temperatures of the bed, head and ambient temperature as well as jog controls for the head position, and switches for the fan and lights. There are some advanced controls on the right that allow you to open and close the needle valves on the head but you should not need to use those.


The other issue I have is that the advanced screen is a bit too well hidden. If you look in the screenshot above you will see 3 small circles between the status pane and printer picture on the right. This button opens up the diagnostic tab with the serial number etc of the printer.


The time estimates for printing seem a little optimistic, the time estimate was 2hrs 30 but the print time was 2hrs 45 although I did not do a particularly accurate timing, a follow up test seemed to be fairly accurate being just a few minutes longer than estimate.


So my first impressions are mixed, the software looks quite nicely designed but perhaps not quite as polished as it needs to be. Hopefully my missing menus will appear once the printer is attached.