Entry-level 3D printers have come a long way over the past decade, with current models exhibiting features that even the most expensive hobby machines lacked in the past. Sovol just released the new SV06 3D printer that once again ups the ante in the entry-level market and I put it to the test.
Disclaimer: Sovol provided me with this printer free of charge, but this review is as unbiased as possible. Sovol did not pay for this review and these are entirely my own thoughts.
The new Sovol SV06 includes many features for such an affordable model. The build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm (8.66 x 8.66 x 9.84 inches) is pretty standard for this segment of the market, though practical for most hobby use. But the printer has some nice features, including:
- Automatic leveling
- Automatic Z axis alignment
- Flexible PEI build plate
- All-metal hot end
- Innovative planetary gear direct drive extruder
- 32-bit controller with TMC2209 silent stepper drivers
That planetary gear direct drive extruder is especially exciting. As I’ve said in many other reviews, I do not like Bowden extruders. The issues they have with retraction that cause print quality to suffer are not worth the weight savings. The Sovol SV06 has a direct drive extruder, which is great. And the planetary gears increase the torque while keeping the extruder compact and lightweight — a setup that I think will become common soon.
As I’ve come to expect, the Sovol SV06 arrived packed securely in a sturdy box with protective foam. We seem to be past the days where users had to be concerned about subpar packing and damaged printers, which was a real issue with some manufacturers in the past.
The 3D printer arrives partially assembled and the user must perform the final assembly. That doesn’t take long and all of the necessary tools come in the box.
The assembly process consists of attaching the upright supports to the main frame, mounting the power supply, clipping on the display module, and screwing on the extruder. Other than that, it’s only a few cables to plug in. Those cables have connectors already in place, so it is quick and easy to do.
It probably took me around 30 minutes to assemble the SV06 and I was taking my time to be careful. If I were to build a second machine, I could probably do it in less than 15 minutes.
When you first turn on the Sovol SV06 you need to perform the automatic Z axis alignment, the bed leveling, and the Z-height offset adjustment.
The Z axis alignment is necessary because the SV06 has dual Z axis lead screws, which is a good thing. But it requires adjustment so that both sides of the X axis are level. The interface makes that process easy. All you have to do is select the option from the menu and the machine takes care of everything else in a minute or two.
The SV06 doesn’t have true bed leveling (that would require at least three motors to tilt the bed), but rather typical bed mesh leveling. It uses an inductive probe to calculate the offsets of points on the bed and adjusts the Z axis accordingly during printing.
Z-height offset adjustment is necessary to get the optimal distance between the nozzle and build plate. The user must do this manually, but it is easy. Just put a piece of paper under the nozzle and turn the dial until the nozzle lightly grips the paper, then save the offset value.
You can use any slicer software that you like, but Sovol has its own version of Cura and that is what I used for my testing. Cura is already my go-to slicer anyway, so using the Sovol version was a no-brainer.
I performed all of my tests using standard PLA filament. Sovol says that the SV06 can handle many other materials, including: TPU, PETG, ABS, PC, ASA, nylon, carbon fiber, and wood filaments. That isn’t an exaggerated claim, as the direct drive extruder helps with flexible materials like TPU and the all-metal hot end can handle high-temp materials. But an enclosure (sold separately) is needed for many of those materials to prevent warping and a hardened nozzle is needed for the abrasive materials (the SV06 comes with a brass nozzle).
The tests were all done with the default “draft” profile, which sets 60mm/s speed and 0.2mm layer height. Users can increase the speed, but I wouldn’t recommend going any faster than 80mm/s because this is a bed-slinger. Decreasing or increasing the layer height is also possible, which will have a big effect on quality (as it does for every FFF printer).
I started with printing a Benchy in white PLA that I had on hand. The quality was very good aside from some stringing, which I attribute to the filament and not the printer (more on that in a moment).
I then printed E3D’s E3DBuggy, which is a Benchy-style test print in the form of a golf cart. If you have dozens of Benchy test prints lying around, you might want to try this model as an alternative. Once again, it was almost perfect aside from the stringing.
Suspecting that the filament was causing the stringing, I ordered some new gray Anycubic PLA to use for the rest of my prints.
The next test was a little fidget joy stick that I chose because it has a print-in-place spring and two parts that fit together, so it is a good test of tolerances. This turned out great. The stringing was gone, the two pieces fit together nicely, and the spring worked well. The only flaw was a slightly visible Z seam, but that was minor (and Z seams are always evident on circular objects).
The final test print that I want to show you is the well-known and imaginatively named “3D Printer Test.” This model is great, because it includes many stress tests that highlight common 3D printer problems.
It wasn’t quite perfect, but it was very good — especially for an entry-level printer of this price. The overhangs worked well up to 60° or so and even the 70° overhang was acceptable. The thin towers kept their shape, indicating good cooling. Holes were consistently 0.5mm too small, but that is typical for FFF printing and easy to compensate for. The bridges were perfect, as was top surface quality. There was significant ghosting around the embossed lettering, but that’s what I expect from bed-slinger printers.
The entry-level hobbyist 3D printer market is very competitive and most models in this segment tend to look alike. They have similar specs and capabilities, so price often ends up being the determining factor for most consumers.
The Sovol SV06 isn’t perfect, but it is very good. It has a price comparable to most of the competition, but offers a few features that make it stand out. Namely, the planetary gear direct drive extruder, dual Z axis lead screws, and automatic leveling.
The build quality is top-notch and the print quality is as good as anyone can expect from an FFF 3D printer. Higher end models tend usually offer faster speeds, enclosures for more material compatibility, and larger build volume, but their print quality isn’t necessarily any better than the SV06’s (with the exception of ghosting).
I’m hesitant to say that this is the best entry-level FFF 3D printer on the market, because there is so much competition and new models come out all the time. But I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Sovol SV06 to a friend. In fact, I plan to give my review unit to a friend who wants to get started with 3D printing, because I think it is such a good choice.
Sovol is giving away an SV06 and you can enter for a chance to win using this link and the code "SV06Hackster" in the form.