Our Thoughts: Biqu B1
Many people online have questioned if the Biqu B1 is an Ender 3 Killer...
In this blog, we hope to explore this statement, and come to a good answer.
Ender 3 is the as current most popular 3D Printer style on the market and has been widely copied. It is know for having a few issues and being cheap.
What Biqu has done here, is for just slightly more, fixed pretty much every feature that commonly gets replaced on the Ender 3 line.
So in short to my long review of this printer, if I were given the option of buying any 3D printer now, sub £700, it would be this. Even over a Prusa Mini
I will explain my rationale behind this now, so hopefully my reasoning as to why will help you with deciding if this is for you.
In essence, it is bigger print volume, about the same features as the Prusa Mini and is much cheaper. Whilst there is a lot to be said for Prusa Eco-System, this attempt by the king of 3D Printer Control boards has a solid stab at making a printer you can easily build upon.
Compared to Ender 3, Prusa and other printers, this is slightly more hands on than others mainly because only the base and extruder come pre-assembled.
For complete beginners, this makes the barrier to entry slightly higher, the instructions are pretty extensive with plenty of photos, and it can be assembled using the tools they provide.
It takes somewhere in the region of 45 minutes to an hour to assemble, compared to an Ender 3 which takes around 30-45 minutes.
If you're new to 3D Printing and used to bits of DIY, then this won't be a problem. Likewise if you're open to learning, it's not too difficult.
If this is your first stab at 3D Printing and you're not confident in setting something like this up, there is also this step by step guide.
The Ender Improvements
Firstly, the extruder heat supply, normally you have a bunch of wires wrapped in cabling which looks messy and gets in the way.
This has been replaced with a single USB C wire, which even has data lines for you to plug & play an BLTOUCH which allows you to auto bed level, without needing to change any firmware or do any cabling.
What this means in layman's terms is that your printer wiring is nice and tidy by standard, and you can get the printer to automatically scan your bed so that it prints the first layer well, by just clicking to enable a BLTOUCH Sensor.
This is typically one of the first things people might fix on an Ender 3.
Secondly, the extruder, which is the bit which grips and feeds your filament.
On Ender 3's, normally it is quite tricky to put your filament in, because the edge is slightly rough and the end of filament catches it, meaning you have to usually put a kink and/or cut horizontally across your filament so it has a point and feeds well.
So Biqu have changed the angle it feeds in at, used a curved cog and put a curve (fillet) on the leading edge.
The result: filament can be freely fed in and out with minimal fiddling.
This may seem like a small thing, but when you print a lot, and swap filaments, this is very much appreciated, it saves a bit of time and frustration. It's one of those quickly developed pet hates with Ender 3's. Again, usually one of the first things replaced on an Ender 3 by most people.
Thirdly, the bed. Very few printers come with a flexible bed, mostly Prusas. They've quickly become popular because it makes it super easy to remove parts. However, one of the common problems with Prusa printers, is getting filaments to stick on their first layer.
Usually glass gets around this, because the plastic sticks well to it, however the caveat is that you can't flex the bed to remove your print.
So Biqu have innovated and created a textured bed, powder coated with a special paint which means that your print sticks really well to the bed, but you can still flex it to remove it. After experiencing this marvel of the magnetic bed, I immediately upgraded all of my machines to one.
Of course every now and then you get a print that pops off, for the most part though, it works a treat.
Another innovation is the screen. At this price, it's only just becoming common place in 2022 to have Touchscreens, so this printer was well ahead of the mark. Whilst nothing I've experienced seems to come even close to RaisePrints lovely screen UI, this isn't all that bad. It's reasonably intuitive to navigate, although the ability for the scroll button to click would be nice.
The UI isn't great, but it's not bad either. The auto-heat function is a bit of a pain, because it takes a while to kick in. If you've entered values previously then it wipes them unless you save permanently to settings.
Likewise it sadly lacks a auto-heat function for PLA or ABS, meaning your have to manually set them. This is a shame really. But if you want, you can also toggle back to the original old style of screen.
Adding features to this printer is relatively straight forward. One such addition is adding auto-bed levelling. This means that the bed may move slightly, but your print will always be level and the first layer will print well.
It's designed as plug and play, no firmware changes, just change it once in the settings on the screen.
If you don't want to change firmware, then I'd say, go and get one, or maybe an EZABL which you can wire into the Z Stop.
If you want an inductive sensor and don't want an EZABL, then you can just edit the firmware, luckily Biqu are very good at having support and all the software settings & Wiring Schematics online in their Github Repo.
The print quality itself is pretty formidable, I would say in the top 3 best printers I have ever seen straight from the box, alongside a Prusa Mk3s and a Geeetech A10.
The good thing about the Biqu and Prusa printers, is that the preparation of your 3D files, called slicing, is publicly available.
You can it off of our site, or here too.
I appreciate this review has been very positive, and that's not because we're trying to sell this printer even if we do sell it, it's just that I am genuinely impressed.
They've taken an Ender 3, and improved it.
We bought an Ender 3 just over 3.5 years ago, and spent many hours upgrading it, to many of the upgrades this has (plus Direct Drive, Hardened Nozzle and EZABL). I spent close to £150 on top of the original cost, whereas this achieves most of that for just £90 extra.
Well worth the extra money over an Ender 3. They've fixed all the bug bears (except for screen UI for me) which Enders suffer from. Then they've over engineered other features like putting stronger steel brackets which mean the printer is a lot more structurally rigid. This improves the quality of your prints.
Then they've put in their fancy electronics which is what Biqu is renowned for.
This leads overall to a very formidable Prusa competitor, nevermind just being an Ender 3 Killer.
They've made a printer which is at a good price, fantastic for printer beginners because they've got lots of features on there and its super easy to use and so far seems reliable.
Yet still provided a good starting base for improvement and upgrades too, by keeping it as open and easy to upgrades as possible.
For instance the 32 bit board really future proofs this printer and it even has mounting holes for a Raspberry Pi so you can run Octoprint (Send wireless 3D prints and view prints via camera).
Overall I am impressed with this printer, but as with all 3D printing, the test will be after I've run a few hundred prints on this and had it for about a year, so I will update with my thoughts then too.