PROS / You can transfer files from your computer to the machine using Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet or an SD card.
CONS / The AXIOM Direct Drive took some tweaking to improve the print quality during our testing.
VERDICT / This large 3D printer has the best software, best connection options, best filament choices and pretty much the best everything else.
The Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive 3D printer easily earns our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for all of its features and design elements that work together to make stellar 3D models. It has flexible connection options, is compatible with over 40 filament choices and features automatic calibration so you never have to manually level the print bed. Its stunning design is backlit to highlight its fully enclosed printing area and superior design.
The Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive is a robust 3D printer with features designed to give you the best printing performance. The included nozzle is 0.5 mm, but more sizes are available on the Airwolf 3D website – smaller nozzles make high-quality models, and large nozzles make fast draft-quality prints. The minimum print layer height, or resolution, the Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive can achieve is 0.04 mm, which is one of the smallest in our review.
When we set about testing this machine, we printed a handful of test prints designed to stress the printer to expose both its weaknesses and its strengths. We found that the AXIOM Direct Drive didn’t warp prints, and the models had smooth surfaces, no scarring and no layer shifting. Each print was accurate and precise. There were some problems with under extrusion, curling corners and overheating. After we tweaked the settings and temperature and did some cleaning, the print quality improved.
The Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive’s 10 x 12.5 x 8-inch print capacity is one of the largest in our 3D printer comparison. The print bed is plenty big enough for most of your 3D models, but it’s surprising it isn’t bigger considering how large the printer is.
All the best home 3D printers print with PLA and ABS but not much else, but the Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive can print with almost every type of filament. In addition to standard PLA and ABS, this 3D printer supports polycarbonate, PETG, flexible filaments, HIPS, nylon and dozens of other materials. This machine even accepts universal filament cartridges, so you can shop around for more colors and more filament types than are available through Airwolf 3D. However, when you buy proprietary filament, you know it’s designed to work with your specific printer.
The machine comes with one filament cartridge, which goes a long way to offset some of the initial cost. We found that the proprietary Airwolf 3D PLA is priced about midrange compared to other manufacturers we reviewed.
All of the best 3D printers have robust interface systems, and the Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive is no exception. The onboard screen lets you control all aspects of the printer, including which model you print, the temperature, and head and bed positioning. A small dial lights up according to the function you’re using, whether you’re printing or not printing. This printer has a long startup time to accommodate all the preprinting automatic features and the heating process.
You have plenty of software options to choose from, including APEX and Cura. You can also download Repetier Host and Astroprint. All the software is free to download from Airwolf 3D, and the company has tutorials to help you set settings and perfectly calibrate the program for the AXIOM Direct Drive.
You also have a lot of connection options. You can save 3D files to a Micro SD card, insert it into the printer and print from the screen, or you can connect the machine to your computer with a USB cable and send prints via the software. Better yet, you can print wirelessly via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable. With so many options, you can fit your printer with your preferences and workspace, which makes the AXIOM Direct Drive incredibly flexible and easy to use.
Calibrating your 3D printer can be tedious, so it’s extremely helpful that the AXIOM Direct Drive takes care of calibrations automatically. When you tell the printer to start a 3D print, it preheats the print head and cleans the nozzle by wiping it off on a wire brush strip behind the print plate. It then auto levels the print bed by checking the height on each corner, and all you have to do is sit back and watch. The Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive makes 3D printing look flashy and futuristic, and we like it that way. The great calibration features take the guesswork out of expertly adjusting your printer before each print.
Weighing in at 61 pounds and spanning a few feet square, the AXIOM Direct Drive is a bit too big to be a home 3D printer. The frame is aluminum and polycarbonate, and the print bed is all glass. The print plate itself is heated so ABS prints don’t warp during the printing process. We found it extremely easy to clean and didn’t have any problems with warping during our tests.
The interior is fully enclosed to better regulate the temperature for sensitive printing materials. There are also blue light strips inside the printer to illuminate your models and the brand etchings in the glass – this is definitely a good-looking machine.
The top of the printer is made out of lighter, flimsier plastic than the rest of the machine, and it is easy to remove to access to the print head and filament. There are a few other versions including one with a dual head upgrade. The printer is much larger than the actual print capacity, so there is some wasted space inside the printer.
Help & Support
The AXIOM Direct Drive comes with a 12-month warranty, which covers your printer from defects and malfunctions. You also get six months of specialized technical support. After that runs out, you have access to the main customer support platform on Airwolf 3D’s website, which features email and phone information, a manual, video tutorials, and more. We found that tech support staff members were quick to respond, thorough and the website has helpful picture walkthrough tutorials to show you how to clean and use the printer.
The Airwolf 3D AXIOM Direct Drive is the best 3D printer we reviewed in just about every way. It excels by being compatible with a number of filament choices and having auto calibration, onboard navigation, a large heated glass print plate, wireless connection options and so much more. It’s many features make it easy to customize for your workspace and unique 3D projects.