In this post I want to describe my experiences with the Leapfrog Creatr HS and Leapfrog in general. Especially the negative ones.

Initially, I got the Creatr Dual Extruder from Leapfrog. The main problem with this printer was that the shaft of the motor for the movement in the y-direction kept breaking. To solve this problem, I got several new motors and also new printers, but the problem kept persisting. When they wanted to send me another new printer, I think the third one, the Leapfrog Creatr HS had already come out (at least on their website). It seemed like this was just the Creatr, yet it was improved on several aspects. Therefore, I asked them to swap my Creatr Dual Extruder for the Creatr HS. They agreed to do so if I paid half of the difference in price between the two printers. I was very happy to do so as the Creatr Dual Extruder is really a crap printer in my opinion.

But this is where the problems started. The first annoyance was the delivery of the printer. This got delayed with five months since the design of the printer was not even close to being finished at the date they promised it would come out. I would get the printer around august but in the end I received it between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Indeed, several of the flaws of this Creatr Dual Extruder were solved. The carriage with the extruders was way lighter which made the machine more stable. Also, the steel rods on which the carriage moves were more rigid which ensured that there were no problems anymore with the x-axis not being perpendicular with the y-axis. Further, the wires leading to the carriage could not get in the way of the carriage anymore so no more missed steps of the stepper drives and the printer was stand-alone with a nice little screen preventing failed prints due to miscommunication between the printer and the computer.

But also the first negative aspects of the printer came up. The first thing was that the information during printing was only half on the screen, and also faulty. The timer would show a fluctuating time left of sometimes even days while the actual print would only take a few minutes. Additionally, the printer is being advertised as one of the fastest - or the fastest - printer around, with printing speeds up to 300mm/s. I think, any person with a little printing experience knows that you can simply not print as fast as the advertised speed. Maybe some printing time could still be saved with fast non-printing moves, but this is also not the case; with any high speed moves the motor will skip steps leading to misalignment of the different printed areas of the printed object. Maybe this can be solved by moving in the z-axis before moving in the xy-direction, but I haven’t tried that. I mostly think that it is misleading that they advertise the printer as being able to print with speeds up to 300mm/s.

The next thing that came up quite soon after I had the printer was a failing heater. I contacted the customer service about this and the first thing they gave me to solve this problem was a new PCB for in the carriage. Quite soon I found out that this was a faulty PCB with a short between two of the traces. I got another one but this did not solve the problem. Based on what I saw, they then gave me a new motherboard, but this also did not solve the issue. I started to check every single wire and found out that one of the wires simply was not correctly assembled in one of the connectors. After correct connection the heater was working again.

Of course, I thought I could finally start printing, but another weird problem popped up. The prints would jam from time to time and I had no clue why this could happen. I started monitoring the temperature and it turned out that the temperature was highly unstable, sometimes dropping under the melting temperature of PLA. I went to the website of Leapfrog to see how this problem could be solved. I followed the PID autotune manuals but this didn’t work. Finally, I got the temperature stable by manually inserting PID values after studying the theory of PID controllers and checking what values other types of printers were using.

Now I got the printer kind of working and started to print the parts I originally bought this printer for. The printer has a large printing bed, which is one of the main reasons I bought this printer. But now it turned out that even with a thicker first layer, I was hardly able to use the entire surface. The nozzle would almost hit the substrate in the middle while the plastic was not even touching the bed on the sides: The printing bed was super curved. I contacted the Leapfrog Customer service and they sent me a new bed. I installed the new bed but this one was curved as well. I spent hours on getting the closest to perfect configuration with a combination of bed leveling and plastic extrusion and then decided that apparently it was not getting better than this.

I started printing my parts and this was going really well. I instructed my whole family on how to use the printer, how much plastic each part would cost, which parts I needed and how many of them. I wouldn’t call it a mass production machine but we were getting pretty close with it. But then it became summer and parts started to fail randomly. I noticed that the temperature in the room was slightly raised because of the good weather and it seemed like the plastic was melted at the extruder drivers. I started monitoring this temperature and came to the conclusion that the drivers were getting very hot. So hot, the PLA started to reach its glass/melt temperature. I solved this problem by placing a fan on top of the printer.

Then, an update of the firmware came out. I installed this, and suddenly all my parts were larger. Turned out that the old firmware had a wrong amount of steps per cm. I had to resize every object I designed because otherwise it wouldn’t fit as a replacement part in my products.

Meanwhile, I found out that PLA is not the printing material to go with anymore and I was searching for other materials to print with. Most of these materials are more subject to warping than PLA and now the curved bed was becoming a problem again. I contacted Leapfrog again but as the printer was out of warranty now, I am stuck with my curved bed and warped prints. Also, I am not sure whether buying a new bed is going to solve the problem, as the last new bed did not solve it either.

Also, the new materials I am printing with (PETG, Colorfabb XT, NGEN) need higher temperatures. Although the maximum heater temperature is stated as 270 degrees Celsius, the printer randomly fails now during printing (at 250 to 270 degrees Celsius). Sometimes it can print for 12 hours straight, and sometimes it fails after 20 minutes. For me, as I already changed the heater, the sensor, the nozzle and the metal tube to which the nozzle is attached, it seems like heat creep now or a faulty connection again. This morning I measured the resistance of all cables and it seems like they are all intact. If anybody has got any clues on this problem I would love to hear this, because I have been stuck with this problem for several months now and I am close to giving up on my hobby.

To conclude, I hope this has been an informative story about all problems you can get when you buy a Leapfrog printer. Also, I would like to hear other people’s experiences with this printer.

To Leapfrog: You can contact me to solve these problems and to hear many tips onto how to improve your printer.

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Wow, and I thought my experience was bad…

Leapfrog is truly a head scratcher. I have no idea how they’re still in business after all this time. Everyone I’ve ever met that has one has horror stories to tell. This company constantly keeps promising the moon in their advertising and all they deliver are sub-par machines with very shoddy construction quality.

I think the following conversion job says it all:

Here is my review from a few years back, i have re built it completely to make a relaiable printer.

Its garbage from the factory.

! https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=2uQmJDHcsWI

I’ve been running a Creatr HS on loan from a friend for a while now. It was rather frustrating to begin with (not really a beginner’s printer) but I’ve recently managed to get some good behaviour from it. I’ve found it to be very capable by adhering to the following:

  1. Don’t print small stuff - stock cooling design is rubbish - I’ve had to design a duct for the hot-ends.
  2. Don’t print small stuff - 0.35mm nozzles are terrible. The old-school pimply 0.5mm nozzles are brilliant.
  3. Be very careful adjusting the hot-ends in the cross-slide. It’s way too easy to damage the bores in the aluminium slide and gall the hot-end solidly into the carriage.
  4. Consider adding heat transfer compound of some sort to the heating element and thermistor bores. Massive, massive difference to extrusion and (lack of) clogging, though I may well have cemented the block, heater and thermistor into a lump on both sides…
  5. Tighten the belts and check them frequently (cross-slide tensioner is not a great design and the belt-idler locator screws on the y-axis slide needed packing out to give some kind of tautness.

Still insanely noisy but now works well. (on the bigger stuff, anyway).

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HAHAHA excellent!

Thank you for your reply. I am printing pretty large stuff normally. I noticed that the duct was rubbish. It melted due to the heat of the hot ends. I designed a different one myself as well but I would be curious to your design also. Would you be able to upload it? I switched to a 0.4mm nozzle. Is that large enough? I wanted a larger nozzle also because that gives stronger prints but also I had some nuts and bolts that needed to fit and I didnt know how much a larger nozzle size would affect that. Your third tip comes too late :stuck_out_tongue: my right nozzle is really hard to change for some reason. Maybe this was even directly the case. How does it affect the extrusion? Can you print faster due to more efficient heat transfer? What kind of clogs did you have? I have them constantly now :frowning: My belts seem to be alright.

I am also wondering about that. I have heard about several people getting new printers after their original one and also the newly sent ones turned out to be defective. They even had to increase the price of the HS. More recently however, they lowered the price with about 1000 euros. They advertised this as being a more efficient production process but maybe this is because they want to get rid of all of them. This is something I can imagine.

I re designed with a prusa type cooler, i have since upgraded with a titan exstruder and hotend from e3d, im pretty happy with this new setup.

The entire machine is re built now apart from the skrew drive and the frame. electronics bed heating exstruder, bearings bearing assembly exstruder holder., absolutetly everything. It would have been easier just building one fron scratch to beginn with and it would have saved me a ton of money for the original machine (that never really worked).

I’m a bit far behind from what you’ve done, mostly because I’m not that patient.

So far my biggest change has been the electronics. I’m using a Megatronics.

I really want to replace the linear bearings, get the steppers out of the extrusion cradle, redesign that and replace the extrudes for all metal ends with heat sinks. I wasn’t aware that the 0.35mm nozzles were that big a problem.

The one thing I’m going to do now (that the Megatronics allows me to with the latest Malin firmware, 1.1.0 RC8) is to use two independent stepper drivers for the y axis. I just can fine tune he stepper driver otherwise with the all the weight owe Nema 17’s have to throw around.

Thats a good first step i put in a smoothieboard actually.

How do you connect the new temperature sensors of such a new hot end? I noticed that the current temperature sensors are like 130K at room temperature, while I think many thermistors are rated 100K at room temperature. Does it need some changes in the firmware?

Well, not the first step, just the biggest one. I’ve replaced quite a few mechanical com ponents thus far. Both the x-axis 8mm rods were crooked like you wouldn’t believe.

This sort of thing.

The aluminium sheet bracketry / covers around the head are somewhat bent on my machine so my model may not fit your unit well.

Also wires for thermistors and cartridge heaters point out at right angles to the blocks, on my printer, requiring the duct to be rather wide in the x-direction (can’t be too wide otherwise clashes with LH wall of enclosure! Also I have an older unit without the sheet metal nozzle cowling that I can see from the latest Leapfrog photos.

The exhausts are biased either side of the print nozzles, and angled below the tip, to try to reduce the chance of cooling the blocks too much (been there, done that).

Print shown is E3D / SpoolWorks Edge, printed on a Cetus3D extended (Kickstarter edition), on a raft with supports disabled. Great printer, if you are after a cheapy machine that just works…

(ETA - you will note that the duct model below has some built-in supports that need clipping off)
fanductnew25-main-2.stl (3.05 MB)
fanductnew25-bracket.stl (83.1 KB)

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I re coded with the propper thermistor from E3D in the firmware. It wasnt hard i just changed a few numbers thats it. E3D provided a great guide

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I believe you :slight_smile: Mine came with a fantstic 4 mm wobble in the z skrew drives.

I bet they have a lot of those types of startup funds and all sorts of government and EU institution accelerations funds or whatever. I cannot fathom how the hell these guys have been in business for so long and keep putting out ever more expensive machines. I just checked their website and they now have a €22,000 machine!!! What the bloody fuckin’ hell!!! Who would give these guys that much money?! Then again, I did give them €2000…

But yeah, they always have very slick marketing, but their claims always seems to be extremely exaggerated. They make it seem like they’re the top 3D printer manufacturer in the world, yet you hardly (if ever) hear about them in any 3D printer reviews or in any specialized media in the field of additive manufacturing.

Another of their disgusting little tactics seems to be the Apple Computer approach to “innovation”. They add some gimmicky thing to their machine that has been around for quite awhile (like x axis dual carriage) and present it as if its their innovation. The bloody thing has been included in the Marlin firmware for quite some time. The €22,000 machine claims to come with a patented bed leveling technology. I can only wonder…

I to had to know the Leapfrog machines and what i can expect and delt with it, i did no adjustments to the machines and i have three of them running fulltime . What i did was find the correct settings for every print i make and every filament i use in Simplify 3D. So sorry, guys a partialy agree, but you’ll have to know the machine. This is my opinion besides technical malfunctions

happy printing

I agree that once the pronter is working, the prints have a quality which is good enough for me. However, it is only working like 25 percent of the time so that is what really annoys me. From what I have seen, there are printers around which also print in a reasonable quality, are more reliable, cheaper, less noisy, have parts for which cheap replacements are available, etc. So if I would buy a new printer, there is a really small chance that I will buy a leapfrog again.

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Hi Marcel,

I got the same type of experience with Leapfrog.

I also had an Creatr Dual extruder. It took me 2 years to figure out how to properly print with it. Then I could happily print for about a year. (Note: without using the dual extruding feature because it is near impossible to mount right and also with the glass bed being slightly warped).

However in November last year I let it print a long print and thus the machine was printing through the night. Somehow it lost its connection after a failed print and the heaters stayed heating, this in turn almost set fire to the filament. I woke up because my firealarm in that room went off. So I ran over to the room and saw a lot of smoke comming from the machine. I pulled the cord and removed the filament. Then removed the firealarm and pulled the battery to make it shut up. On that point the second firealarm in the corridor went off because of the smoke now able to make its way to the corridor. I silenced this one too. Made sure the nothing was hot anymore and went to bed. My girlfriend was still sound asleep…

God knows what would have happend if I slept through the alarm… or if there was no fire alarm in that room.

The morning after i screwed open the electronics cover and the internal USB cable was completely fried, the external one was soldered inside its connection and my pc gave a notification it had shut down the USB port because a too high current was drawn from it. (If it hadn’t it would probably also killed my PC motherboard). There were also scorch marks on the frame and plastic covers.

So… I contacted Leapfrog service department:

[Leapfrog]:

Why this could have happened? - there is a fuse in the power module of the printer which regulates the voltage delivered to the printer and makes sure the electrical components are not

overloaded. If that fuse failed it can explain everything that happened.

Now to fix the unit from the pictures and information you provided the following would be needed:

1. A new board - based on what you told us the board was affected as well which is why the hot ends start to heat up as soon as you power the board;

2. A new power module and power cable;

3. A new internal USB cable;

Now this is just the initial parts as until we have a fresh board which can control the unit we do not know if anything else was affected;

Also please share a picture of the invoice for the unit so I can check if the printer is still within the first year warranty.

If you do not want to fix the unit and want to make sure that it is stable I can also offer the option of the carry in warranty. For more information see the PDF file attached (if the printer is under warranty all you would have to pay for would be the shipping costs and the repairs would be covered by leapfrog)

If the unit is no longer under warranty I am afraid you would need to purchase the parts but I will ask management to consider giving you a discount on the parts and hopefully they will.

So I was like:

WTF, Your printer nearly caught fire, probably because of a flaw in your power supply fuse which should be a safety feature… and I …maybe get a discount…

It’s not like this is an expected mallfunction or normal wear and tear. Please talk to your management.

Plus if you’re Dutch there is this law called:“Recht op een goed product”. Which basicly means when the product shows non conformities in its expected lifetime (A 1800 euro 3D printer is not expected to fail within 3 year, and certainly not this kind of failure) you are entitled to a free repair, a new product or your money back.

So within the same week the commercial director called and offered 3 things

1. free repair

2. A discount on a creatr HS (2400 ex VAT)

3. A discount on a Bolt (5000 ex VAT)

And I got a tour of their facility.

I was a bit tempted to go for the HS, but after reading your story I’m happy I didn’t.

I went for the repair and dropped my printer off at their facility.

1,5 monts went by and they concluded the printer was not repairable anymore (which is not the case, replace all components but the frame and the printer will work, but this was from a financial point of view).

So they offered me a discount on a CREATR single extruder.

After not agreeing to this because I still think I am within my rights asking for a refund/New printer I called in some legal help.

They sent a couple of letters but leapfrog keeps ignoring them.

Also I have to prove the non conformity but the businesses who can do this are quite expensive and a new 3D printer is cheaper.

So long story short, in my experience:

Do not buy a leapfrog printer as a consumer. They simply do not care about you and care even less for guaranty/consumer laws (see their 1 year waranty policy).

Leapfrog offers a limited carry in warranty (“Warranty”) that the Hardware will be free from defects in workmanship and materials under normal use (“Defects”) for a period of one (1) year from the date the Hardware was purchased (“Warranty Period”) unless an extended warranty has been purchased by the Client. With the exception of the duration of the Warranty, all terms and conditions of the Warranty apply to any extended warranty. All sales of products sold as Refurbished will have the same carry in warranty for a period of 90 days from the date the Hardware was purchased.

They are trying to focus on the professional market and simply not gonna trouble themselfs with fixing printers they will probably not support for a very long time in the future.

My advise:

  1. Do not spend any more money on your Creatr HS…If it does not print properly with PLA to begin with it will probably also not work with all the other materials. Is it possible to reset the firmware update?
  2. Buy a smoke detector (general good advise for every 3d printer btw)
  3. Certainly do not give up on your hobby, this would be a shame all because one compagny deceives their customers. I have been to the point you are right now many time with the Creatr but eventually allways found a way to fix it. However in this case it might be buying a new printer ;).
  4. (Eventually) Buy a Prusa i3 MK2, prints extremely well and is updateable every time they fix something new for it. Almost got bored when I didn’t had failing prints all the time.
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Hello,

Thank you for your reply on my topic. It is quite shocking but also gives more insight in how things work there at Leapfrog. My experience is also that once the warranty of one year is gone they do not take any responsibility anymore for any faults in their products. This is certainly not what you can expect from a 2000 euro machine.

On your advices:

I have already sent my HS to the shop because rationally I cannot throw this machine away all of a sudden. The depreciation would be too large in this time frame. If they can fix it for a few hundred euros (although I kind of doubt that) I would love that.

Good idea. Don’t have them I think.

Yeah actually I know I will keep printing but probably with another printer at some point. I think I would love the Prusa i3 MK2, but it has a slightly too small printing bed for me. Otherwise it has got almost all the features one could ask for, especially at this price. What I am looking for is a reasonably priced printer which has at least the x or y dimension 30cm+ to fit my designs on. If anybody knows such a printer which is also of good quality I would love to hear so.

Marcel