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Creality K1 review: accessible, at-home desktop 3D printing

From unboxing to printing in 45 minutes, the system boasts multiple impressive features that enable its high-speed production

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We have been reviewing a lot of desktop 3D printers lately, and our most recent review of Creality’s K1 was one of the most enjoyable yet. The system is a well-balanced blend of high-tech features and design elements, which, while impressive, come with strengths and weaknesses that merit a closer look.

Creality K1 review: accessible, at-home desktop 3D printing. The system boasts impressive features that enable its high-speed production.

Out-of-the-box experience

The unboxing and setup process of the Creality K1 is remarkably straightforward. From receiving the printer to running the initial test print, it took us no more than 45 minutes – a significant advantage for any user, from the hobbyist to the professional.

The printer’s sleek unibody die-cast frame stands out immediately – not just aiding in performance due to the strength, but looking good while doing it too. The aesthetic appeal of the system adds a touch of luxury to what might otherwise be a purely functional device – many of which are eyesores.

Creality K1 review: accessible, at-home desktop 3D printing. The system boasts impressive features that enable its high-speed production.

Speed and quality

The K1 series, including the K1 and K1 Max, boasts a professional-grade CoreXY 3D printer lineup with innovative features. The lightweight printhead ensures swift movement, crucial for high-speed printing. Data from Creality Lab shows that the K1 ramps up to its top speed of 600mm/s in just 0.03 seconds.

While this advertised speed was successful in test prints, it presents some challenges in practical use – with us experiencing a few failures due to clogging. The 20,000mm/s² acceleration capability is impressive and seemingly accurate, although pushing the machine to these limits requires a really stable setup (the strong rubber feet help) to support the intense movement.

The K1’s hotend has a good ‘maximum flow rate’ of 32mm³/s (occasionally reaching 35mm³/s). The ceramic heating surrounding the entire hotend heats to 200°C in about 30 seconds (sometimes even faster), and facilitates the quick filament melting – a feature particularly useful for those who value time efficiency.

Auto leveling and software

The system’s dual hands-free auto leveling employs strain sensors and 1μm AI LiDAR for accurate bed leveling. This non-contact measurement method rapidly scans the build surface, creating a highly accurate virtual surface. Thus auto-leveling feature is a mixed bag. While it adds convenience, it is occasionally unreliable – resulting in the need for conducting self-checks before each print, slightly diminishing the feature’s initial appeal.

Moreover, the Creality Cloud has seen improvements, especially in mobile functionality, yet the desktop interface remains confusing. Although usable, the slicing software is a limitation, with Creality’s proprietary software, Creality Print 4.3, not matching up to the capabilities of alternatives like PrusaSlicer.

Equipped with a new generation of Creality OS that runs on a 2-core 1.2GHz CPU, the K1 series offers robust computing power. The network connectivity enables remote control and monitoring via Creality Cloud, and cluster control when multiple printers are online.

AI camera and other features

The inclusion of an AI camera in the print chamber for real-time monitoring at 1080p resolution, combined with the much-appreciated built-in lighting, is a forward-thinking feature, albeit with room for improvement in flexibility and print failure detection. It would also be helpful if was easier to record the live prints in a portrait layout, for sharing on phone screens and social media.

The G-sensors in the K1 help eliminate ringing or ghosting patterns caused by the high-speed printing, maintaining print quality and dimensional accuracy – however, only when sticking to the exact recommended filament settings on the printer itself.

Built-in camera view of a 3DBenchy being printed.

Worth the asking price

Creality’s K1 is an ambitious step into high-speed, high-quality desktop 3D printing. As with everything in life, it is not perfect, but it is a truly great system compared to some of its other systems and competitor systems.

Its advanced features represent a step in the right direction in the evolution of desktop 3D printing technology. For those willing to navigate its complexities (of which there are comparatively few) and optimize its capabilities, the K1 is a worthwhile printer for at-home 3D printing – especially for the current sales price of $499.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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